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Though as he looked back on 
his career, George Lyman Kitt- 
reclge once explained that it had 
been more fortunate than event- 
ful, his picturesque personality 
created legends; and many out- 
side the academic pale have 
heard of the foremost American 
college teacher o English and 
scholar of his time. A staunch 
New Englander of humble birth 
whose ancestors arrived on the 
A1 ay flower, he was captivated by 
the lore of his own country, of 
which he became a keen stu- 
dent; yet his studies in English 
literature were to win interna- 
tional renown. One who knew 
what Shakespeare meant, he also 
knew how to make his classes 
ni Shakespeare dramatic. Ulti- 
i lately he was characterized by 
one of Shakespeare's own coun- 
trymen as a man whom Shake- 
speare himself would have found 

92 K6286b. 62-25872 

Hyder , 

George layman Kittredge 

- ^' V.- ' * - -'" 

.-*.-** t Li , 



Teacher and Scholar 


University of Kansas Press 
Lawrence, 1962 

Teacher and Scholar 


University of Kansas Press 
Lawrence, 1962 


L.C.C.C. Number 62-14233 



A. H. 
C. A. H. 


NOT UNTIL 1954 did I decide to satisfy my curiosity about 
a former teacher by writing this book. Since during his 
lifetime Kittredge was widely recognized as the leading 
American scholar and teacher of English, others must 
share my curiosity. For those inclined to undervalue 
either teaching or scholarship his achievement in both 
is an example of their fruitful combination. He knew 
how to stimulate the appetite for knowledge and minis- 
ter to its satisfaction; he could both teach and add to the 
materials available to the teacher. Quite apart from his 
works on Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the history of 
witchcraft and the unrivaled range of his erudition, he 
illustrates, because of his generosity in placing his intel- 
lectual resources at the disposal of others, the scholar's 
social usefulness. 

As a vivid personality he became the subject of 
legend. Some misleading stories about him seem harm- 
less enough, though it is startling to find them presented 
as sober truth in recent books whose authors I shall not 
embarrass by citing. One can scarcely hope to destroy 
certain more malicious notions, based on the emotional 
needs of those who cherish them. Only the naive suppose 
that legends die easily. Kittredge himself, for instance, 
sought to impress upon the public the fact that, though 
a few were put to death, no witches were burned in 
America; still newspapers and magazines continue to 
repeat the error. Even in Massachusetts the political 
orator would feel cheated if he could not attempt to 
identify his opponents with "witch-burners/' whom he 
associates with Salem. 

Help from many sources has been indispensable to 
begin with, the cordial co-operation of surviving mem- 
bers of the Kittredge family Mrs. Conrad Wesselhoeft, 
Mr. Henry C. Kittredge, and Miss Dora Kittredge. Mrs. 
Wesselhoeft supplied family records, pictures, and per- 
sonal information, and has, with unfailing kindness and 
a patience often tested, helped me to find answers to 
puzzling questions. Both she and her brother have been 
of particular assistance in regard to their father's early 
life. It is pleasant to remember the courtesies of Dr. 
Conrad Wesselhoeft and of some other members of his 
family, Mr. William Wesselhoeft and Mr, and Mrs. 
Albert Bush-Brown. My debt to Mrs. Kittredge, who 
died on March 10, 1951, is indirect but considerable, be- 
cause of her role in preserving the records now in the 
Harvard Archives. The correspondence and scrapbooks 
there, including many letters to Kittredge and carbon 
copies of his own letters, largely non-personal, have been 
a valuable source. Though mention of other literary 
sources will be more appropriate in my notes, I should 
like to record here my debt to Professor James Thorpe's 
Bibliography of the Writings of George Lyman Kitt- 
redge, a work which, by listing nearly four hundred 
titles of books, articles, and reviews, has enabled me to 
avoid tedious searches that would otherwise have been 

Also valuable have been the reminiscences of Kitt- 
redge's colleagues-especially Professors F. N. Robin- 
son, Bartlett Jere Whiting, and Hyder E. Rollins, whose 
keen interest and thoughtful suggestions continued even 
during his final illness. Professor Arthur C. Sprague of 
Bryn Mawr, for a time Kittredge's associate in English 
23, has also been generous with his help, as were Pro- 

fessors J. D. M. Ford, Henry A. Yeomans, Harry T. 
Levin, W. G, Howard, George B. Weston, Taylor Starck, 
George L. Lincoln, and Herschel C. Baker, and Profes- 
sor and Mrs. James B. Munn. 

In connection with special problems I am obliged to 
Miss Henrietta Child, daughter of Francis James Child; 
to Mr. David Pottinger, formerly of the Harvard Uni- 
versity Press; to Messrs. Milton Edward Lord, Librarian 
of the Boston Public Library, and Walter Muir White- 
hill, former president of the Club of Odd Volumes; and 
to Mr. Sargent Kennedy, Registrar of Harvard College. 
Mr. Robert H. Haynes, Assistant Librarian of the Har- 
vard Library, has been helpful and considerate. I am 
grateful also to Mr. K. C. Elkins of the Harvard Ar- 
chives, who facilitated their use and who assisted in 
resolving some small uncertainties, and to the custodian, 
Mr. Clifford K. Shipton. By their co-operation librarians 
connected with the libraries of Phillips Exeter and of 
Exeter, New Hampshire, and of Cambridge, Massachu- 
setts, like those of the University of Kansas, have put 
me in their debt, as have Mr. William J. Cox and Miss 
Abbie P. MacKinnon, secretaries respectively of Phillips 
Exeter Academy and Roxbury Latin School. 

Not all my informants among dozens who were stu- 
dents of Kittredge at Harvard and at Phillips Exeter 
can be mentioned either here or in the notes. Those who 
went to special trouble include Mr. and Mrs. H. N, 
MacCracken, Messrs. James R. Masterson and Charles 
L. Hanson, and Professors Joseph Warren Beach, E. P. 
Kuhl, Walter Morris Hart, Chester L. Shaver, Francis 
L. Utley, Robert A. Law, Odell Shepard, Stith Thomp- 
son, Cyrus L. Day, W. W. Lawrence, Fred S. Tupper, 
Elkin C. Wilson, Alan D. McKillop, Homer Wood- 

bridge, Robert Withington, M erritt Y. Hughes, Fredson 
Bowers, and John W. Draper. Also to Professor C. J. 
Sisson, formerly of University College, London, and to 
Mr. Frank E. Beresford, the English artist, I am indebted 
for helpful letters. I should like to thank the editors of 
the Harvard Alumni Bulletin for printing a notice re- 
garding my plans, as well as those persons who responded 
to the invitation to write to me. Mr. Henry L. Savage 
and Professors W. F. Bryan, J. E. Hankins, and Fred- 
erick A. Pottle, as well as my colleagues Professors M. 
D. Clubb, L, R. Lind, and R. S. Howey, Mr. C. M. 
Baker, and Dean J. H. Nelson, have called to my atten- 
tion some special points of interest. Material which I 
have not used directly has contributed to my perspective. 
Besides members of the Kittredge family and of mine, 
readers of the manuscript have included Professor Alan 
D. McKillop, Miss Marie Louise Edel, and Dean John 
H. Nelson; their perusal has resulted in marked im- 
provements, especially in the elimination of oversights 
and infelicities, though none of the persons named are 
responsible for any that may have escaped my notice. 

October 1, 1961 -C. K. H. 



1 Beginnings 1 

2 Harvard (1878-1882) 16 

3 Phillips Exeter 33 

4 The Teacher 41 

5 The Young Scholar 73 

6 Laurels of a Conservative Professor 108 

7 Homage to Chaucer and Sir Gawain 132 

8 "The Apotheosis of Kittredge" 146 

9 Homage to Shakespeare 166 
NOTES 193 
INDEX 205 


Portrait by Charles Hopkinson frontispiece 

facing page 

G.L.K. as an undergraduate 18 

Three snapshots 19 

Mrs. G. L. Kittredge 34 

G.L.K. and his grandson 35 

Portrait by Frank E. Beresford 162 

Photograph by Bachrach 163 

Another photograph by Bachrach 178 

G.L.K. with William Lyon Phelps 179 



"THIS MORNING I am 9 years old. I was born Feb. 28 
Tuesday 7 o'clock A. M. I860." Thus George Lyman 
Kittredge began his journal, with a precision appropri- 
ate to the future scholar. By some hours he missed hav- 
ing a birthday only during leap years. Though George 
does not name the place of his birth, he was almost 
certainly born at 11 East Canton Street, Boston, in a 
house no longer existing, not far from the present Bos- 
ton City Hospital. The neighborhood was not fashion- 
able. Before 1869, when George wrote the entry quoted 
above, his parents had moved four times 1 a circum- 
stance hardly bolstering the boy's sense of security, 
though not necessarily threatening it. 

At the age of nine George often visited and some- 
times worked briefly at the store located at Williams 
Market, run by his father and his uncle. Here he was 
able, for instance, to "knock up crates" and earn in a 
few hours as much as fifty-two cents or as little as eight 

His father, Edward Lyman Kittredge, had been born 
on May 14, 1827, in Nelson, New Hampshire, the son 
of Abel Kittredge (1798-1882) and the former Sophia 
Lyman (1800-1838). He was a man of extraordinary 
amiability, remembered by his acquaintances as a 
kindly, humorous, and trusting soul and loved by his 
friends and his family, who thought of him as "the best 
of husbands and fathers/' He was undeniably, too, a 
man of unusual stamina and of sound constitution, re- 



maining healthy under conditions that would have 
broken some men. Like his son he was inclined towards 
optimism. "To be optimistic at any age requires some 
strength of mind and a cheerful ancestry/' a comment 
by that son, seems more interesting in the light of Bar- 
rett Wendell's wondering "if anybody ever reached 
thirty-five in New England without wanting to kill him- 
self." 2 It was not surprising that his father's adventures 
as a forty-niner deeply impressed George when he heard 
them told, on a July 4th. 

Edward Lyman Kittredge, who was also like his son 
in owning a handsome beard, had set out in January 
from Boston with a party of twelve, styled the new Eng- 
land Pioneers, under the leadership of Captain Edward 
A. Paul, a veteran of the Mexican War. They went first 
to Washington, where they obtained passports allowing 
them to go through Mexico armed. After proceeding to 
New Orleans, they sailed to Vera Cruz, and then most 
of the party traveled overland through Mexico City to 
Mazatldn, where they embarked for San Francisco. The 
vessel proved unseaworthy, and after twenty-six days 
several of them, including Edward Kittredge, landed 
in Lower California, the rest sailing back to Mazatldn. 
By this time Kittredge had only eighty cents, and he 
guessed that the entire party had less than $50 among 
them. They started on foot, though they picked up 
horses as they traveled, and lived chiefly on game, horse- 
flesh, and such food as kindly natives supplied. One of 
their dishes was a soup made of owls and cactus. During 
a stage of the journey "Kit," as his companions called 
him, spent three days without food and two without 
water. In his own words, as later recorded by his son, 



"I pricked my fingers to make them bleed so I could 
moisten my throat so I could swallow." 3 

A thousand miles of the journey extended through 
cactus country, 700 miles of it over burning sand through 
which Kit walked shoeless. One night a rattlesnake 
shared his blanket; not relishing such companionship, 
Kit killed the snake and counted its nineteen rattles. 
At San Luis Rey the men encountered a company of 
U. S. Dragoons and were given employment as mule 
drivers during their more than two months' journey to 
northern California. After arriving at Stockton, Kit 
wrote, in September, "The idea of getting a fortune 
here in a day is all a humbug." Men were more abundant 
than gold, and prices of food unreasonably high. He 
stayed at the Chinese Diggings a few months, living 
largely on venison. Later he went to San Francisco, 
where he was surprised to meet his brother Farrington, 
then working as a bartender. 

Obviously Edward Kittredge's experience in the 
West provided him with an abundance of memories and 
good stories to tell his son. It also eventually qualified 
him for membership in the New England Associated 
California Pioneers of '49. George remembered attend- 
ing meetings of this organization in his father's company. 
At one of them he sat next to a man whose arm had been 
chewed off by a grizzly bear. 4 Though the elder Kitt- 
redge's western expedition did not reward him with the 
riches he hoped for- indeed he was robbed of some of 
his possessions while returning through Panama he 
did bring back gold enough to make a watch-case for 
his future wife, then a widow, Mrs. Deborah Lewis Ben- 
son, whom he met in Boston not long after his return 
from California. 


Deborah Lewis, daughter of David P. Lewis (1787- 
1859) and his first wife, Hannah Chipman (1787-1831), 
was descended from the early settlers of 1639 in Barn- 
stable. 5 As an adult she remembered that during her 
girlhood she had known Daniel Webster and had ridden 
horseback with him. She was to impress her grand- 
children as a slim, attractive woman, energetic and 
quick in her movements, active of mind and ready of 
wit. Her decision to nurse a case of smallpox when no- 
body else wished or dared to, a cherished family memory, 
illustrated her courage. Before the birth of the first child 
of her second marriage she had borne a child who died, 
and she had been warned by her physician that another 
child would cost her life. The warning did not frighten 
this religious-minded woman. The needlework design 
which she made in the brooding piety of the months 
preceding her son's birth a needlework design showing 
Christ and the Centurion ("Render therefore unto 
Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the 
things that are God's") in an earlier age might have 
seemed a fitting prelude to the birth of a saint rather 
than a scholar. 

George adored his mother. Indeed he was fond of 
both his parents and of his sister, Lucretia ("Lettie"), 
two years younger than he, whose gift of a blank book 
on his ninth birthday seems responsible for his boyish 
journal. Naturally, he felt protective towards his sister. 
In April, he notes, "Lettie scared me half out of my wits 
by coming to school after me. . . ." On a later occasion, 
after Lettie herself had begun attending school, her hoop 
skirt, insecurely fastened, dropped off; George had to 
carry it and shepherd her carefully into the presence of 
his teacher, who put it on for her. His journal records 



that when his Uncle Minot gave him an orange, he gave 
it to Lettie; other gifts he shared with her generously. 

George grew up as an only son. It was not until he 
was at college that his parents adopted a child, William 
DeWitt Kittredge (1881-1908), who had no influence 
upon George and little upon the life of his family. 


George's childhood was evidently happy. One slight 
shadow on a child's impressionable mind had been 
thrown by the Civil War, though George was only five 
when it ended: he dreaded the coming of government 
men who might enroll his father in the army. Other- 
wise little is known of his earliest years. A family letter 
records that he had gone to church, had remembered 
the minister's text surprisingly well, and had subse- 
quently wished each day of the week to be Sunday. An- 
other letter records his desire to have an aunt visit him 
during his illness, so that she could read to him when 
his mother became tired of reading aloud. 

At the age of nine, George was, as his journal indi- 
cates, an active, precocious, and gifted boy whose hori- 
zons were rapidly expanding. His journal indicates, also, 
that he had been exposed to some old-fashioned New 
England moralizing. After quoting Isaac Watts on the 
little busy bee's improvement of the shining hour, he 
comments, " By perseverence [sic] it is done." This 
sentiment, boyishly endorsed "G. L. Kittredge," may 
help to explain his constant quest of perfection in his 
studies: "I went to school and had all lessons perfect." 
"I went to school and did not fail." "I went to school as 
usual and every boy in spelling failed but myself." These 
are sample entries, but the record was not invariably 


perfect: "I went to school and had to stay after school 
because I did not want to do my sums right." 

In addition to his school work, George took piano 
lessons for a time and occasionally played a piece for 
his relatives. On Sundays he attended church, usually 
including in his journal the texts of the sermons, and 
also went to Sunday school in the afternoons. From the 
Sunday school library he checked out fiction and books 
with serious-sounding titles, such as The Martyrs of 
Spain or The Liberation of Holland. He was already a 
rapid reader, covering Alice in Wonderland in one day 
and more than a hundred pages of The Scottish Chiefs 
in another. He consulted the Almanac (presumably 
The Old Farmer's Almanack., later the subject of one 
of his books), noting such anniversaries as that of the 
death of Byron or the capture of Jefferson Davis. At 
regular intervals he went to the market for his copy of 
the Youth's Companiona, periodical to which in later 
life he had the satisfaction of contributing an article on 

Some references to headaches appear in George's 
journal. These were to persist until his college days. 
They may have been related to trouble with his eyes; 
rightly or wrongly, they were assumed to be connected 
with his continual reading. When his mother attempted 
to curtail that reading for a time, in the interest of his 
health, George asked whether poetry could be excepted 
from the ban. Thinking that his reading of it would not 
be extensive, his mother granted his request, thereby 
helping to lay the foundation for his wide knowledge 
and appreciation of poetry. When at the end of his 
journal George mentioned starting the Onwards and 
Upwards*, "magazine" that may not have lasted long 



and has disappeared he noted that it would be "devoted 
to Poetry and Fun/' 

From time to time George records his earnings: 
[July 26th] "I earnt 8 ct and there is nothing important 
more." [July 27th] "Went over to the market and earnt 
24 cts when I came home Nancie French was over to see 
Lettie we played Robinson Crusoe Swiss Family Robin- 
son Hide & Seek I gave riddles and puzzles had a nice 
time gave her some curiousities & she went home rather 
early." Finally, the goal of George's earnings is revealed 
in a significant passage: [July 31st] "Went to the market 
& earnt about 40 cts. Came home and found I had over 
enough to buy a $10 dictionary which I had been earning 
money a long time for." Like other children in most 
ways, George had an interest in dictionaries extraordi- 
nary for a child. His interest in words was already keen, 
and he was later to have a hand in dictionary-making. 

George's most constant preoccupation was collect- 
ing "curiousities." After a visit to Provincetown he 
brought home such items as a mug a hundred years old, 
a corncob pipe, two oak apples, and three mussel shells. 
An acquaintance gave him a "peice of the marble with 
which Pompeii was paved," as well as "lava from Vesu- 
vius" and a piece from "the Old Elm." "Aunt Susan" 
supplied him with "a minnie ball Grape Shot & Can- 
teen." "Aunt Mercy," also not a real aunt, who like his 
mother's older sister, his Aunt Tempie (for Temper- 
ance), could have stepped out of the pages of Pilgrim's 
Progress, and other friends and relatives added to his 
supply of curiosities; still others he traded for with 
friends and acquaintances. His collections continued to 
be enriched with such objects as "a Peice of Libby 
Prison," "Peices of the White Mountains," or "A Darn- 


ing Needle Insect/' During his boyhood he made a 
collection of birds' eggs and nests. For a time he col- 
lected coins and stamps. Still later, in mature life, he 
collected arrowheads and other Indian relics, including 
some Indian skeletons. In a less material sense, too, he 
was to remain a collector of curiosities, as any reader of 
The Old Farmer and His Almanack or Witchcraft in 
Old and New England may observe. 

In other ways his horizons were expanding. Boston 
and its surroundings were a constant reminder of the 
days of early New England: he was to the core a New 
Englander. There were innumerable places to visit the 
Coliseum, the Public Garden, the Bunker Hill Monu- 
ment, the Mechanics' Fair, or the Museum, where he 
could observe many curiosities. Once he visited the State 
Prison and saw "the knife the Warden was killed with/' 
He enjoyed watching processions of the Boston Fire De- 
partment or a balloon ascent on the Common. 

Evidently the boy who was to be very much a family 
man had a rich assortment of relatives. Some of them, 
including the family of an aunt whom he often visited, 
lived at Provincetown. His journal recalls one of these 
visits, unaccompanied. He took account of the sights of 
the harbor ("went 8c touched the rudder of the V. Doane 
it was a great feat was it not") and noted the effect of the 
waves in a series of comparisons not too startling for a 
nine-year-old (". . . the wind lashed the waves as a 
coachman does his horse [.] The schooner Norma Prov- 
incetown rocked in the waves as a babe does in a 
cradle"). He was hooted at by strange boys and struck by 
one "which," George notes with some objectivity, "sent 
me howling into the house/' In verbal exchanges, how- 
ever, George was seldom to be worsted, and at Province- 



town he enjoyed what he considered a minor triumph. 
He had climbed to the roof of a house to watch some 
men shingling it, tearing his breeches as he did so: "J. 
Cook said we don't allow Tellers' here that can't swim 
(he is not married) says I 'I'll say the same we don't 
allow ' 'fellers" there that ain't married ha! ha! [']" 

George's shyness doubtless influenced some of his 
encounters with strange children. A child of parents 
who were not themselves young, and encouraged by 
them to feel somewhat superiorunquestionably he was 
a person of superior endowments his shyness seems to 
have developed partly as a defense, for strange children 
would hardly have accepted him at his parents' valua- 
tion. Furthermore, George's delicate health limited his 
participation in outdoor games. A family anecdote points 
to an attitude his parents may have encouraged: After 
playing awhile one day, George, then about ten or eleven 
years old, came in, threw off his cap, and sat down. 
"George, why aren't you playing with Charles?" "Can't 
play with him. He swears," the boy replied. George's 
language continued to be free from expletives, as J. D. 
M. Ford, a distinguished Irish friend who was himself 
fond of expletives, once declared in a public tribute to 
him. His mother, who was concerned about George's 
health, exerted herself to develop his self-confidence. 
Her strength and steadiness of character impressed him 
much; her influence was not measured by his avoidance 
of profanity. To her, too, he owed a quickness of percep- 
tion and wit, though to his father he owed something 
of his sense of humor. 


The visits to Provincetown were memorable, proba- 
bly more so than other visits, such as those to his pater- 


nal grandparents in Nelson, New Hampshire. George 
made friends among the fishermen and sailors at Prov- 
incetown, one o whom visited his home in Cambridge 
years later, to present a model of his schooner. But his 
attachment to another town on the Cape, Barnstable, 
was far deeper. He spent many of his summers there. 
His mother often took the family to her home town. 
When George was about thirteen, possibly for the sake 
of the boy's health, his father, who had engaged in farm- 
ing before running the market in Boston with his 
brother Farrington, moved to Barnstable, where for 
about two years he did farming on a small scale. 6 The 
family lived in the large house on Railroad Avenue, at 
the time owned partly by George's step-grandmother but 
eventually by the Kittredges. 

A letter written in 1928 to O. J. Laylander indicates 
that George thought his two years' schooling in Barn- 
stable fortunate: "Though a city boy, I had the priceless 
privilege of spending two whole years (between the ages 
of thirteen and fifteen) on Cape Cod, where I attended 
an excellent school kept by a first-rate school ma'am of 
the old type. One of our chief delights was to wrestle 
with puzzles derived from Farrar's Arithmetical Prob- 
lems. We also used to parse the words in line after line 
of Paradise Lost. It would have been impossible for a 
boy to spend two years of his school life at that age 
under better auspices/' During these years George at- 
tended classes at the old schoolhouse, only recently 
abandoned, on the main street of Barnstable. Near the 
edge o an embankment, there still stands a tree from a 
branch of which he jumped, and, missing his footing, 
broke his arm. 

George's "school ma'am" was Miss Martha Lee 


Whelden (1828-1909), long remembered in the com- 
munity as an exceptionally able teacher. Since George 
stated that his experiences in school were like Layland- 
er's, 7 he would have agreed that school exercises stimu- 
lated discussion regarding the meanings of words and 
cultivated the analytical powers. There were classes in 
spelling, arithmetic, grammar, geography, and reading. 
Such students as Laylander remembered McGuffey's 
Readers, which in an age when reading matter was scarce 
had an unrivaled claim upon the attention and which 
were not averse to straightforward moralizing. 

Some essays which George wrote during his school 
days at Barnstable have been preserved in a manuscript 
collection he called "The Scholar's Olio," having in 
mind that it is a medley. A few pieces reflect the changes 
in the world the money panic of 1873, for instance, the 
increase in murders and other crimes, the desirability 
of the sterner sex's retreating in good order ("The Band- 
box, Cartridge-box, and Ballot-box"), and the irrepar- 
able loss of the great naturalist, Professor Louis Agassiz. 
A strain of practicality shows in "Who's Ready?" It is 
best always to be ready for anything, George affirms. In 
"Qualities of a Good Business Man," he tells of an ap- 
plicant for a position who, on being asked what he 
would do if he made a false entry, replied, "Correct it." 
Another candidate, who got the job, had the right 
answer: "Oh, sir, I would not make one." In "Amuse- 
ments" George expressed the view that playing billiards 
is not sinful, but one must not play near a bar: if "in 
the excitement of play one may purchase a glass of some 
alcoholic poison it had better be altogether shunned." 

The thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts, and 
some of George's essays are far-ranging and idealistic, as 



when he discusses "The Sphere of Silence' 5 or "Invisible 
Influence'' or "The Face the Index of the Soul/' His 
observations on the last infirmity of noble minds are 
sagacious: "If we make ourselves votaries of Fame, we 
shall be very fortunate if that fame does not degenerate 
into dishonorable notoriety, to which even obscurity is 
to be preferred." 

The papers in "The Scholar's Olio/' in an attractive 
hand, are gracefully composed. Like the thought, the 
style is clear-cut and surprisingly mature. The famili- 
arity with literature and history is already striking: few 
boys of fourteen or fifteen have even heard of Taylor 
the Water-poet or could draw a parallel between Macau- 
lay and Prescott. Gone, too, are the occasional lapses in 
grammar or spelling. Though in choosing his title, 
George may have used scholar merely as the old- 
fashioned equivalent of pupil, the title now seems well 
chosen: he was already a scholar. 

George's activities outside the classroom were as 
important to him as what went on inside it. With his 
best friend, Will Goss later to be head of the Engineer- 
ing Department at Purdue University and eventually 
president o the American Car Builders' Association he 
explored the surrounding country assiduously. After 
Will, who evidently had a mechanical bent, acquired 
an old boat and assembled a steam engine for it, the 
two boys steamed around Barnstable Harbor. The 
weight of the engine and of the coal for its fuel created 
some risk. Their boating expeditions seem more daring 
in the light of the fact that George did not know how 
to swim till he learned to share his children's enthusiasm 
for swimming; the small boat could easily have capsized. 

George acquired a genuine appreciation of Cape 



Cod people, including their oddities of speech. As a 
Harvard student he was to recall their Elizabethanisms 
and such pronunciations as his grandmother's "hash" 
for "harsh," so that the name once used for West Barn- 
stable, Great Marshes, locally sounded like "Great 
Mashes." So keen was his continuing interest that his 
later correspondence indicates his willingness to pay $50 
for an 1880 Barnstable County Atlas and his eagerness 
to subscribe to the Cape Cod Magazine. When the 
author of a magazine article on serpents incautiously 
referred to a "Rattlesnake Point" as being in the vicinity 
of Barnstable, George speedily dispatched letters of in- 
quiry to various acquaintances. How he and his friend 
Will Goss would have enjoyed "Rattlesnake Point" in 
their boyhood! And would the place not be a pleasure 
to visit, with protective boots and pitchfork in hand? 
The place previously unknown to him was finally dis- 
covered to be on a remote island rather than in Barn- 
stable County. Eventually he assembled a collection of 
Cape Cod material, put to good use by his son Henry in 
writing books on the Cape. That son once remarked that 
his father was fundamentally a conservative about every- 
thing except taking chances on country roads, somebody 
else doing the driving, as he explored the territory 
around Barnstable. 

His very ancestry would have justified George's in- 
terest in the Cape, for through his mother he was de- 
scended from four people who came over in the May- 
flower. John Howland, one of the first men to land at 
Plymouth Rock, married Elizabeth Tilley, who with 
her parents was also on the Mayflower. John Howland 
and his wife Elizabeth were among the ancestors of 
George's grandmother, Hannah Chipman (Lewis), who 



lived at a house which survives as the older part o the 
Sturgis Library in Barnstable, one of the oldest libraries 
in Massachusetts. 


Since in Barnstable educational opportunities were 
limited, it was fortunate that the Kittredge family 
moved back to Boston in 1875. Not far away was the 
Roxbury Latin School. Though in 1860, when George 
was born, Roxbury had been a separate city, it was now 
a suburb of Boston. 

Roxbury Latin School proudly claims to be the 
oldest free school in the United States and the third 
oldest among American educational institutions, being 
junior only to the Boston Latin School and Harvard 
College. The school was founded in 1645 by "the 
Apostle to the Indians," John Eliot, and the pioneers 
of Roxbury. General Joseph Warren, who fell at Bunker 
Hill, was a graduate, and for a short time a teacher at 
the institution that was to have many illustrious grad- 
uates. In the nineteenth century the outstanding head- 
master of Roxbury Latin School, considered by many to 
be the leading schoolteacher of New England, was Wil- 
liam Coe Collar (1833-1916), known as a lover of the 
classics but also as a friend of the modern languages 
and the sciences. He was the author of widely used text- 
books in Greek, Latin, and German and an organizer 
of ability above all, an able and enthusiastic teacher. 
A legacy of land, given by Thomas Bell to the school in 
the 1670's, greatly aided its growth two hundred years 
later. By that time it had become a leading preparatory 
school, especially for future students of Harvard Col- 

When George began his studies there, barely more 



than a hundred boys were in attendance. He was ad- 
mitted in July, 1874, after being examined in arith- 
metic, grammar, geography, and writing, but did not 
attend till the fall of 1875, when he became a member 
of the class of 1879. At the end of the term, however, he 
was admitted to the class of 1878, "on condition that he 
qualifies himself in Ovid and Ancient Geography." This 
he succeeded in doing. His ''general mark" during his 
first month was 96, and, though this was higher than 
for some of the months that followed, he invariably led 
his class. Collar, accustomed to write incisive com- 
ments on the grade reports, noted on George's: "Is en- 
titled to high commendation/' "excellent, as usual/' 
"always good." 8 The studies included Greek, Latin, 
mathematics, geography, Essay and Declamation, with 
some slight attention to spelling and French. 

As the student of the highest rank, George was 
doubtless a favorite of his instructors. Some of his fellow 
students could hardly have been as appreciative of his 
merits, for as No. 1 scholar he took precedence over the 
popular captain of football, Billy Manning, his most 
obvious rival. 9 Among George's several friends at Rox- 
bury was Charles H. Grandgent, who graduated from 
Roxbury Latin School in 1879, a year later than he. 
When Collar's grandson entered Harvard in 1916, he 
found Professors Kittredge and Grandgent "unneces- 
sarily kind" to him. 10 The former kept in touch with 
his old school. In 1881, while still a student at Harvard, 
he became a member of the first standing committee of 
the Alumni Association, organized in that year, of which 
he later served as president. It is not surprising that he 
was concerned about the choice of the headmaster who 
in 1907 succeeded Collar. 


Harvard (1878-1882) 

BEFORE HE LEFT the Roxbury Latin School, George 
passed the Harvard College entrance examinations. 1 On 
November 4, 1877, he received from the secretary of the 
Cape Cod Association, George Thacher, the news that 
the Association had appropriated $350 towards the ex- 
penses of his first year and would continue to help in 
his other college years if his scholarship justified such 
help. 2 The Association maintained a fund to assist de- 
serving young men from the Cape to obtain their higher 
education. George's friends, William Coe Collar and 
the Rev. H. F. Eades, as well as his uncle, Henry Crocker, 
had spoken to the Executive Committee in his behalf. 
George's scholarship did not disappoint his backers. 
In his first year he lived in Boston 3 and walked to and 
from the Harvard Yard daily, to save money a practice 
that contributed to his later fondness for walking and 
may help to explain, too, why he ranked only second 
in his class (incidentally being awarded a share in the 
distribution of books given to honor students). First 
rank went to Frank Nelson Cole, a mathematics major 
who, like George, graduated summa cum laude in 1882 
and who afterwards served briefly as a Harvard lecturer 
in the subject. George's having to cope with two pre- 
scribed courses in mathematics that first year (one com- 
bining solid geometry, trigonometry, and analytics and 
one in algebra) did not make Cole a less effective rival. 
In his sophomore, junior, and senior years George 
ranked first and graduated with first honors in a class 


HARVARD (1878-1882) 

of 181 a class of which by 1932 fifty-six members were 
to be recognized in Who's Who in America and with 
highest honors in his major field, the Classics. 

As a means of adding to his funds George also won a 
number of Bowdoin Prizesin his junior year for his 
essay on "Burke as a Statesman" and during the follow- 
ing year for "Thomas Carlyle as a Historian" and 
"Democracy in the Greek and in the Modern State Com- 
pared." He also won Bowdoin Prizes for two translations 
of English into Attic prose, one submitted November 
1, 1881, and the other on June 27, 1882. 

In spite of his brilliant record, George did not neglect 
his social life, and made plenty of friends, beginning 
his development into what Dr. Johnson called a clubba- 
ble man. He became a member of the Institute of 1770 
a sophomore group with a well-selected library and of 
the Signet Society, in which "conversation and essays" 
had replaced the earlier "orations and debates," "theatri- 
cals" being prohibited. The Signet lived on, eventually 
acquiring a clubhouse, where in his mature years Pro- 
fessor Kittredge often appeared; but the O. K. Club, 
a group of sixteen students who met in members' rooms 
for social diversions, a club which he also joined and of 
which he became president, afterwards came to an end. 
Though its main pursuits were literary, the O. K. Club 
gave its approval to the proposition, "In case of a hitch 
in the literary proceedings, let the Society feed." 4 Its 
most distinguished member, Theodore Roosevelt, '80, 
had been treasurer as well as librarian, and in 1879 his 
speech on politics in New York State was recorded by 
the secretary. 5 George's fellow members in the class o 
'82 included Owen Wister and Charles Townsend Cope- 



George also joined the Philological Society, which 
enjoyed a brief existence during 1880-83, and was sec- 
cretary both of this organization and of Phi Beta Kappa. 
But his most important activity was writing for the Har- 
vard Advocate, the periodical to whose board some 
members of the literary O. K. Club were usually elected. 
Seven members of the editorial board could be elected 
in their sophomore year, to take the place of the retiring 
senior members, but the president's term of office ran 
from February of his junior year to the next February. 
George served on the Advocate Board from February 
of 1880 to February of 1882, being elected president for 
the last year of this term. The president was managing 
editor, presided at meetings, and made assignments in 
short, bore the chief editorial responsibility for the 
magazine, whose editors have included such persons as 
Theodore Roosevelt, Charles M. Flandrau, Van Wyck 
Brooks, Conrad Aiken, Malcolm Cowley, and Robert 
Hillyer. 6 

Some meetings of the board were held on Monday 
evening in the rooms of one of the editors. Those held 
while George was president were afterwards remembered 
as especially "jolly": "The President was always sure to 
bring down the crowd in a roar, by his amusing render- 
ing of some contributor's poem, now and then refresh- 
ing himself from a glass of ale at his elbow." (His point 
of view had evidently shifted from that of the Barn- 
stable school days when he had written of "alcoholic 
poison/') The scene will readily be visualized by those 
who later heard him read papers or give "smoke talks," 
punctuated by passionate puffs on his cigar. In one in- 
stance the board was amused by the embarrassment of 


G.L.K. about 1879 

G.L.K. in 1882 

By courtesy of the 

Harvard College 


G.L.K. with his son Henry about 1912 and in the Helen in Barnstable 

Harbor, 1911 

Bel oio : G.L.K. in his study 

HARVARD (1878-1882) 

Charles Townsend Copeland, who was short of stature, 
in rejecting the verses of a gigantic crew man. 

It was also remarked that the '82 board was "much 
given to the production of 'combination light articles' " 
and that once at least its members adjourned with the 
comment that "Kittredge could write the rest/' More 
than once he seems to have done just that. 

Among his contributions are several bits of light 
verse a Chaucerian pastiche^ some translations and 
adaptations, and several pieces in the French metrical 
patterns then becoming fashionable. One may surmise 
that the author of "Why?" was subject to a largely liter- 
ary passion, being duly acquainted with older poets* 
treatment of the carpe rosam theme: 

Why does it haunt me, haunt me like this? 
Two or three freckles, the sauciest nose, 

Lips like cherries and made to kiss, 
Kissed by others since, I suppose. 

Kissed by others since, I suppose. 

What does it matter? I had my share. 
Breezes and breezes fondle the rose, 

Tell me, for that is the rose less fair? . . . 

A knack of extemporizing in verse sometimes showed 
itself later, as when his son heard him say on the order 
of dressing: 

"The world is ruled by natural laws: 
The pants go on outside the draws, 
The shirt goes on inside the vest, 
And nature's laws rule all the rest." 

An unusual domestic incident, also occurring in his 
son's presence, in a house without a bathroom, inspired 



a swift improvisation, oral but doubtless with unspoken 
apologies to Bryant: 

"The melancholy days have come, the saddest 

of them all, 
When toothbrushes forsake the hook and in 

the slop jar fall." 

Among George's prose skits in the Advocate, several 
with Latin or Greek titles, some concern topical sub- 
jects, such as the visit of Oscar Wilde, who early in 1882 
lectured at the Music Hall in Boston and outwitted 
the Harvard students who marched into the hall wear- 
ing knee breeches and languidly gazing at sunflowers. 
Wilde shifted from knee breeches to conventional eve- 
ning dress and noticed with amused condescension those 
in the attempted travesty, who after the lecture had to 
travel back to Cambridge, in their knee breeches, 
through the snow. One of George's pieces reports this 
scene as viewed by an imaginary "giddy girl" who de- 
cided to go home after discovering that Oscar didn't 
seem as bright as the poet in Patience, the Gilbert and 
Sullivan comic opera that ridiculed esthetes like Wilde. 

Unable to attend an Advocate dinner to which he 
was invited in 1929 Professor Kittredge stated in a 
letter: "I should emphasize the importance of keeping 
such a paper as remote as possible from professional 
journalism in its ideals and methods, so that it can be 
truly representative of that stage of life and culture 
which is characteristic of the best undergraduate spirit 
in the best colleges." Some of his own contributions to 
the Advocate had touched upon questions of perennial 
interest to undergraduates. "A Good Moral Tale about 
Three Boys," written in a goody-goody style, indicates 


HARVARD (1878-1882) 

that President Eliot's elective system had not proceeded 
far enough to eliminate a universal grievance. It con- 
cerns "Charley, who had been a pretty good boy at home, 
but who had been for three months in a very bad place 
indeed, where I hope none of my little readers will ever 
go, I mean Harvard College" and two other boys. 
After the boys had drunk "tea" at a bar and become 
merry, Mickey proposed a contest to see who could tell 
the biggest lie. His own lie: he had seen a man six feet 
tall "with no joints in his back." Tommy attempted to 
top this with a similar story of a man over seven feet 
tall, but Mickey denied that this was a bigger lie. 
Charley told the boys to stop quarreling; he could beat 
them both. "At Harvard, where I am," he continued, 
"there is nothing to hinder a boy's picking out a good 
course and taking it." Without reflecting, the other two 
boys cried, "O Charley, what a whopper!" As Charley 
then pointed out, they had confessed that "he was the 
worst liar, as indeed he was." 

Not all of George's contributions to the Advocate 
were written in a spirit of levity. He reviewed books, 
including both belles-lettres and a book on Greek and 
Latin etymology. The most exciting of the Advocate's 
editorials were part of a campaign against the steward 
of Memorial Hall, held responsible for the poor quality 
of the students' food. The campaign was successfully 
continued by the Advocate during the presidency of 
George's successor and his friend since Roxbury Latin 
School days, Charles H. Grandgent. Nor was George's 
Ivy Oration to neglect the hazards of boarding in Me- 
morial Hall. 

George looked back to his service on the Advocate 
as a high point in his college career not the less, per- 



haps, because in the early 1880's the editorship may have 
entailed the privilege of a pass to the Boston theaters. 
After he had joined the Harvard faculty, he was once 
teaching a class disturbed by the sound of carpets being 
beaten. He confronted the man beating them: 

"Who told you to beat carpets here?" 

"Professor Copeland, Sir," a faint voice replied. 

"Oh, he did, did he? Well, you tell Professor Cope- 
land that I said you must not beat carpets outside my 
window/' Then he remarked to the amused class, "Mr. 
Copeland will understand. He and I were on the Ad- 
vocate together." After reminiscing a bit, he reflected, 
"Oh, I can be just as sentimental as any other jackass." 7 
After Kittredge's death, Copeland, too, indulged in 
reminiscence. He recalled the time when Kittredge, he 
himself, and another undergraduate had been accused 
of doing something that required "a great deal of gall." 
Kittredge had quickly replied, "All Gaul is divided into 
three parts." 8 

During his junior year, his serving as prompter for 
Sophocles' Oedipus the King, given in the original 
Greek late in May of 1881, absorbed some of George's 
energies, for rehearsals were held almost daily for many 
weeks, and the Greek pronunciation of the actors de- 
manded expert supervision. To stage such a play, the 
first experiment of the kind at Harvard, was a daring 
scheme for the Department of Greek, especially Profes- 
sors J. W. White and W. W. Goodwin, who took the 
initiative in the enterprise. The cast was to be of some 
distinction, including Curtis Guild, a future governor 
of Massachusetts, as Teiresias; Gardiner Martin Lane, 
a future financier and vice-president of the Union 
Pacific, as "a servant of Laius"; and a successful novelist, 


HARVARD (1878-1882) 

Owen Wister, as "second messenger." Henry Harland, 
future editor of the Yellow Book, later claimed to have 
shivered with the others during rehearsals. 9 George may 
have envied the actors, for his histrionic abilities would 
have enabled him. to distinguish himself as one of them, 
but his services as prompter may have seemed indispen- 

The chief performance was attended by such celebri- 
ties as Longfellow, Emerson, Holmes, James Freeman 
Clarke, W. D. Howells, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, and 
B. L. Gildersleeve, the eminent classicist from the Johns 
Hopkins University, besides President Eliot, his cousin 
Charles Eliot Norton, and the venerable Professor 
Sophocles (not a descendant of the dramatist) and others 
of the Harvard faculty. 

The play attracted the attention of the Century 
Magazine and of the New York and other newspapers, 
and George Riddle, the Instructor in Elocution who had 
taken the part of Oedipus, was said to have been offered 
for a week's acting on the professional stage a sum more 
than half his annual salary at Harvard. 10 George Lyman 
Kittredge did not receive his share in the general ac- 
claim of the actors by the press, though the Boston 
Advertiser, which mentioned his excellence in Greek, 
recognized his "important position in the preparation 
of the play." 


George's work on the Advocate may account for his 
choice as Ivy Orator a choice rare for the first scholar 
of his class, since the Ivy Orator is more often a wit 
than a scholar. George's reputation as an after-dinner 
speaker also made his election logical. During his junior 



year he was toastmaster at the class supper held at Revere 
House on May 16, 1881 "a dollar supper long remem- 
bered," according to the class record. He was again to be 
toastmaster when the senior supper was held at Parker's, 
on June 27, 1882. His skill as toastmaster continued to 
be notable. In 1905 Thomas Wentworth Higginson 
wrote in a letter that two other men and he had "agreed 
that we had never seen after-dinner speaking handled 
so easily by a chairman as you did on the night before 
last. ... I learned a new lesson from you to feel at ease 
myself and so to draw others on without their feeling 

During the three months between George's selec- 
tion as Ivy Orator and the delivery of his oration on 
Class Day, his friends suggested many witticisms, of 
which he included only one, on the need of a law "for 
the relief and protection of distressed Ivy Orators." 
Naturally, George's Ivy Oration paid tribute to the 
greatness of the class and humorously reviewed out- 
standing events in its history. It began in the style of 
a sermon but soon settled into a mock-serious, at times 
even mock-heroic, vein. He alluded to compulsory 
chapel to be abolished a few years later, thereby oc- 
casioning Colonel Higginson's remark that "they've 
made Greek elective, and Latin elective, and mathe- 
matics elective, and now they've gone and made God 
elective." 11 George dwelt upon the physical changes 
in the Yard since freshman days, when "No lamps 
smoked on the corners of the buildings, all was dark- 
ness! no steam-radiators warmed the entries of Thayer 
and Middlesex, all was cold; no brick paths and plank 
walks covered the quagmires of the quadrangle, all was 
mud." The opening of the Library on Sundays, the nar- 


HARVARD (1878-1882) 

row avoidance of a disastrous fire at Wadsworth House, 
and the prevailing red tape in administrative offices 
were other subjects which the Ivy Orator discoursed 
upon in a somewhat bravura tone. President Eliot is 
credibly reported to have winced at some of the jokes 
about the College, though the speaker did not intend 
to be as critical as Eliot supposed; some years later 
George observed, when he heard of President Eliot's 
feelings, that he felt he owed much "to the charities of 
the College/' 

George, now an impressive-looking young man with 
a florid complexion and chestnut-brown beard, could 
hardly have failed to receive many congratulations on 
his speech before returning to his rooms at 78 Mount 
Auburn Street. There he was rooming with John Walter 
Perkins and Charles A. Snow; with both he had dur- 
ing his junior year roomed at 14 Matthews Hall. Snow 
had roomed there during their sophomore year, when 
George was rooming at College House 54, instead of 
daily commuting from Boston as he had earlier done. 
Snow especially was to remain a steadfast friend; indeed 
till his marriage in 1899, he used to come to the Kitt- 
redge home every Sunday for the pleasure of reading 
Greek plays with George. He became an authority on 
corporation law without letting his study of law inter- 
fere with his interest in literature and history. 12 Other 
classmates who continued to be among George's friends 
long after graduation were Henry W. Cunningham and 
Albert Matthews, an antiquarian whose chief hobby 
was words, a subject in which he became so proficient 
that he and George could profitably share their dis- 
coveries. One friendship was to be cut short: a cultivated 
and prosperous youth who invited George to travel with 



him in Europe after their graduation, Edmund S. Perin, 
died in December of 1882 at Santa Fe, the first of his 
class to die. 

Neither George's studies nor his activities had pre- 
vented his reading omnivorously, as his commonplace 
books indicate. One, begun at least as early as Novem- 
ber 30, 1878, contains extracts from such various authors 
as Montaigne, Samuel Rowlands ("We can serve God 
and yet be merry too" may have impressed a man who 
could humorously explain to his classes the meaning of 
the New England conscience), Aeschylus, Plato, Dray- 
ton, and Bailey (the author of Festus). In another, 13 also 
dated 1878, he arranged quotations and indexed them 
under an amazing variety of topics, such as "anticli- 
max/' "Ballad-making," "Beauty, Elizabethan idea of," 
"Breath of witches is deadly," "crocodile tears." George 
noted that the Elizabethan admiration for high fore- 
heads in women was still found on Cape Cod, for ex- 
ample, where a "broad Greek forehead would be con- 
sidered admirable by few persons who are 50 years 
of age." 


George's Bowdoin Prize essays and the surviving es- 
says written for English 5 also bear witness to the more 
serious cultivation of his intellect. Though his studies 
included mathematics, chemistry, forensics, French, and 
German, his highest marks (in some instances, 100) were 
in Greek and English, and it was in the Greek, Latin, 
and English departments that he formed lasting friend- 
ships with his teachers. 

The Department of Greek between 1878 and 1882 
included W. W. Goodwin and J. W. White, as well 


HARVARD (1878-1882) 

as the aged Evangelinus Apostolides Sophocles. For 
George the serene Goodwin and the more energetic 
and enthusiastic White one student, Charles L. Han- 
son, testified that White set him to reading Aristophanes 
in street cars 14 were more important than Sophocles, 
remembered for his picturesque oddities (for example, 
he kept pet hens, which he named after professors* 

Goodwin's Greek grammar was widely used in 
America, as was the Latin grammar of his colleagues, 
Allen and Greenough in the Department of Latin. 
James B. Greenough was to become George's close 
friend, as well as his literary collaborator. After Green- 
ough's death, George paid tribute to his "logical and 
discursive" mind: "His discursiveness (of which he was 
quite aware) was in fact one of his strongest points, for 
it was controlled by a combination of logical keenness 
and historical imagination which are seldom found 
united. The rapidity of his mental processes was pro- 
digious ... his intellectual curiosity was insatiable, 
and he communicated some part of his enthusiasm to 
all who came under his influence/* 15 Nearly all of this 
passage could be applied to its author himself. 

To three other teachers, ultimately members of the 
Department of English, George was also to pay tribute. 
A. S. Hill, widely known for his Principles of Rhetoric, 
George admired for his incisive and trenchant criticism. 
L. B. R. Briggs, familiar to several generations as the 
beloved Dean of the College and a teacher of composi- 
tion, George had as a teacher of Greek, for it was 
not until 1883 that Briggs was transferred to English. 
George called him "one of the great teachers of all 
time/' 16 He thought Briggs' "teaching principles" "ob- 



vious, not esoteric/' and the application of them, in 
essence, his "character expressed in action." In Briggs' 
class in Homer, George "yielded without a struggle to 
the spell of the poet and the charm of the teacher," and 
in subsequent years found him "a wise counsellor and 
friend" and a lover of things true, honest, and of good 
report, in the Pauline phrase. He always remembered 
that Briggs sometimes began his classes by reminding 
them of Thoreau's saying that, in the midst of the noises 
of the world, one "must listen for his own music and 
follow its rhythm." 

But in his influence on George nobody else on the 
Harvard faculty was to rival Francis James Child. The 
son of a sail-maker, as well as a graduate of Boston Latin 
School, Child had been the first scholar of his class (Har- 
vard, '46) and had studied at Gottingen. He had suc- 
ceeded Edward T. Channing as Boylston Professor of 
Rhetoric. In 1876 Child gave up this appointment, be- 
coming the first professor of English at Harvard and 
one of the pioneer teachers of English in America. He 
gladly abandoned rhetoric for Anglo-Saxon, Shake- 
speare, and Chaucer. 

Child was a short, compact-looking man, fondly 
christened "Stubby" by students, curly-haired and be- 
spectacled, "a humanist and humorist/' whose aspect, 
Henry James noted, was "all finely circular." 17 He was 
public-spirited and capable of moral indignation, but 
winsome and unpretending. William James avowed, "I 
loved Child more than any man I know." 18 The "rich- 
ness of heart" attributed to him is apparent in Child's 
lettersamong the best letters ever written, as others 
besides Kittredge were to consider them. William 
James's phrase helps to explain the devotion which 


HARVARD (1878-1882) 

Child inspired, for as Matthew Arnold observes, "Love 
is the fountain of charm." He bestowed his affection 
upon friends like C. E. Norton and J. R. Lowell, upon 
the old ballads, upon Chaucer and Shakespeare, upon 
violin music, upon trees and flowers. His love was 
charity, and embraced the poor and unfortunate. It in- 
cluded animals, too. Sometimes the professor would 
stop his carriage by the roadside to pat the horse and 
colt on the other side of the fence. His little daughter, 
who inherited his talent for telling stories to children, 
remembered seeing him on the stairs with a kitten 
buttoned in his coat, trying to look unconscious of its 
presence. Once when his wife wrote him of picking up 
a frozen sparrow and bringing it into the house, he sent 
her a telegram: "Welcome bird Beware cat Plenty of 
seed and water/ ' 19 When he was young, he once con- 
fided, he "could scarcely sleep for love of plants." To 
the queen of flowers, the rose, he had paid special 
homage in his yard in Kirkland Street. On rose-raising 
he observed, "No one must grow roses that has not a 
passion for them. Nothing else takes one through but 
passion. Such will say of the Rose as of Love, the grand 
passion I mean, that all other pleasures are not worth 
its pains." 20 As for the grand passion, the rose could be 
used as a crucial test: ". . . before you give your heart 
to a woman set her before a bed of well-chosen roses. 
She may have every virtue, commonly so reckoned, and 
yet be deeply wanting/' 21 

His students did not remember Child as a sentimen- 
tal interpreter of literature. His training in the scien- 
tific methods of Germanic philology had made possible 
a study of Chaucer's language which had proved epoch- 
making in understanding that poet, a sophisticated met- 



rical artist whose verse Dryden, in an age unaware of 
the nature of Chaucer's language, had supposed to pos- 
sess "the rude sweetness of a Scotch tune." Years of 
patient collecting, study, and correspondence with 
scholars in Europe enabled Child to assemble his great 
edition of the ballads and thus earn a lasting place in 
ballad scholarship. George noted the qualities of the 
scholar, as he later described them: his amazing knowl- 
edge of European literature and his zeal as investigator, 
his ability to find human interest in items unearthed in 
his unwearied exploring of the driest and most un- 
promising material. Arduous climbing may precede 
the achievement of the fairest view; appreciation, Child 
thought, may be worth purchasing with honest and, if 
need be, prolonged intellectual effort. 

Child's enthusiasm and charm enabled him to win 
many who, except for these qualities, would merely 
have respected his scholarship. When he lectured at the 
Johns Hopkins University and read from Chaucer, as 
his friend and fellow-lecturer James Russell Lowell 
noted, he won "all ears and hearts/' The leading 
American classicist, Basil L. Gildersleeve, remarked, as 
Lowell reported his words, "that you almost saw the 
dimple of Chaucer's own smile as his reading felt out 
the humor of the verse." 

George's master and George were soon to become 
warm friends, and after his master's death George was 
to carry on the torch of learning in Child's manner and 
spirit. He, too, was to be especially devoted to -the bal- 
lads, Chaucer, Shakespeare; he, too, was to develop into 
a great teacher and investigator of unrivaled thorough- 
ness and zeal and a scholar with the masterpieces of 
European literature at his command. The parallels 


HARVARD (1878-1882) 

could be extended: for example, George, too, was to 
lecture at the Johns Hopkins University and win the 
plaudits of Gildersleeve. George's own statements must 
be interpreted in the light of his generous gratitude. 
Sometimes he felt, he once said, as if all he knew he 
owed to Professor Child. In 1934, after he mentioned 
Child in a speech, he received a letter from one of 
Child's daughters, Mrs. Susan Child Scoggin, and in 
his acknowledgment wrote: "I didn't know you were 
present when I spoke of your father. I'm glad you were. 
Somehow, whenever I have what seems to be a good 
idea, I find myself connecting it with something he said. 
He was a wonderful man and I loved him next to my 
own father.'* 

Child's nephew, Ellery Sedgwick, for some years 
editor of the Atlantic Monthly, has a story of how 
he came to realize what "scholar owed to scholar": 
Kittredge was a guest at a dinner attended by Sedgwick, 
who had attempted some conversational gambits with- 
out eliciting much response. Finally, he told Kittredge 
the story of how he had thirty-five years before visited 
his uncle in his study, piled high in a disorderly confu- 
sion of books and papers. Apart stood a thesis with open 
pages. "Look at that/' said Sedgwick's Uncle Frank. 
"Here is a dissertation written by a pupil of mine, 
George Lyman Kittredge. The name will be worth 
remembering." After a pause he added: "Do you see 
those shears? I could take those shears and cut that 
thesis into equal halves and, if I did, common fairness 
would oblige me to give each half the mark of A." 

"Professor Kittredge," concludes Sedgwick, "was 
listening intently. An expression came over his face as 
if the heavens had opened and the Lord above had 



spoken. His arm stole around my shoulder. 'Did Profes- 
sor Child say that? Did he say that of me? Sedg- 
wick, drop the Professor. Call me Kittredge.' " 22 

In his master, in his own development, and in his 
friendships George's experience at Harvard was indeed 
fortunate. The importance of Harvard was to last, too, 
for it was to become his career and destiny. 



Phillips Exeter 

IN THE LIST of candidates for higher degrees in the Har- 
vard catalog for 1882-83 George's name is included. 
After Edmund S. Perin, the friend and classmate with 
whom he had expected to travel, had become ill, he 
had abandoned his plan to go to Europe and had de- 
cided to continue his studies in Cambridge. Finances 
were still a problem, in spite of Bowdoin Prizes. After 
the resignation of the teacher of Latin at Phillips Exeter 
Academy as of December 31, 1882, George readily ac- 
cepted an instructorship, the appointment becoming 
effective on January 1, 1883. 

Phillips Exeter is situated in the pleasant and digni- 
fied town of Exeter, New Hampshire, about fifty miles 
from Boston on the Boston and Maine Railroad a town 
that since the days of the Revolution has been rich in 
historic lore. In 1 882-83 the school was already a century 
old and numbered among its former students Daniel 
Webster, Edward Everett, George Bancroft, Jared 
Sparks, and other well-known persons, including seven 
cabinet members, twelve governors, and eight senators. 
George's own article about it, published in the North 
American Review for July, 1903, stresses the cultivation 
of self-reliance in this school for ' 'manly boys," faculty 
expectation of student preparedness, and the frank and 
fearless nature of faculty debates. Since most of the 
students were preparing for college, the staple courses 
were Greek, Latin, and mathematics. "Hue venite pueri 
ut viri sitis" is inscribed on the building whose chapel 



now contains the pictures of George Lyman Kittredge 
and other teachers, as well as officers and alumni. 

R. F. Pennell, George's predecessor, had gained the 
esteem of his Latin students, 1 who wondered whether 
the new instructor could fill his place satisfactorily. The 
young man soon swept aside all doubt. He knew much 
but was not conceited; at first he seemed shy but soon 
proved helpful and friendly. 2 Though about six feet 
tall, he looked rather slight of build, weighing perhaps 
140 pounds. He walked rapidly into the room and 
wasted no time, attendance having been taken by moni- 
tors. A visitor might at first suspect that the class was 
disorderly. Boys were encouraged to stand up and move 
about. At every question the boys standing near the 
teacher's platform raised their hands; fingers snapped 
eagerly. The boy reciting might be stopped at any 
moment as the teacher pointed his hand or "jerked his 
thumb" as a signal that another boy was to take up the 
recitation. A pupil whose attention wavered was told 
to do his sleeping in bed; if a second offense occurred, 
the boy was sent from the room. If, as rarely happened, 
the class response was unsatisfactory, the assignment was 
repeated with the remark, "Woe to the man who doesn't 
have it!" 3 

"Kitty," as the boys called him, encouraged the 
seeming pandemonium. Senator George H. Moses re- 
lates that when J. T. Perry brought General Thomas 
H. Walker, the president of the Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology, to the recitation room, the boys, putting 
on their company manners, remained in their seats in- 
stead of standing. When the visitors were gone, George 
reproved them for not standing up as usual. 4 

Nothing but exact translation and idiomatic English 


Mrs. G. L. Kittredge, about 1901 

G.L.K. with grandson Billy Wesselhoeft, about 1929 


phrasing satisfied the new teacher of Latin, whose pupils 
noticed that he himself could talk Latin fluently. He 
could laugh with the class, too. A student one day trans- 
lated "bis septum" as "two and seven" in "I have two 
and seven nymphs of graceful form." "No!" said George, 
this being one of the times he "thundered." The boy 
tried again: "I have two by seven nymphs " The com- 
mentator adds: ". . . even the Roman steam engine him- 
self swelled the volume of laughter at the idea of 'four- 
teen nymphs' being two feet wide by seven feet long." 5 

One of George's students early in 1884 was Amos 
Alonzo Stagg, the famous football coach, then preparing 
for Yale University and a theological career. Seventy- 
two years later Stagg wrote: "I have commented several 
times during my life that the two greatest and most 
stimulating teachers that I had worked under were 
George Lyman Kittredge of Phillips Exeter Academy 
and William R. Harper [later president of the Univer- 
sity of Chicago], Professor of Hebrew at Yale Univer- 
sity." 6 "The best teacher I ever sat under anywhere" 
was the verdict of Thomas W. Lamont, the financier, 7 
who regarded him as "alert, brilliant, amusing, thor- 
ough, even patient but always inexorable." 

Among young Kittredge's colleagues were George A. 
("Bull") Wentworth, Professor of Mathematics, a be- 
nevolent despot whose behavior on entering the class- 
room, according to Senator Moses, reflected the state of 
the stock market; B. L. Cilley, Professor of Greek; and 
J. A. Tufts, Instructor in Latin and English. 


At Tufts' house, early in his stay in Exeter, in 1883, 
George met Frances Gordon. A nonagenarian remem- 



bered that when his teacher of Latin was observed, at a 
reception, to press the hand of Deacon Nathaniel Gor- 
don's oldest daughter, there was great excitement 
among the students. Miss Gordon was among the promi- 
nent belles of the town, one of those whose dresses, worn 
at the germans, important social events, were described 
in the Exonian. 8 Frances' father was a lawyer and a man 
of affairs, who had served as president of the New 
Hampshire senate, a trustee of Robinson Female Semi- 
nary, where his daughter had gone to school before 
briefly attending a boarding school in Portsmouth; he 
was a philanthropist who had established scholarships 
at Phillips Exeter and at Dartmouth College, of which 
he was a graduate. He was interested in foreign mis- 
sions, too, and was later to be a benefactor of the town. 
Gordon was a deacon in the Second Church (Con- 
gregational) of Exeter. His daughter Frances was a Sun- 
day School teacher there. She was slender, of moderate 
height about five feet, five inches tall; her eyes were 
blue and her hair dark brown. She was simple and un- 
assuming in manner, though capable of firmness and 
courage, and, with no trace of self-consciousness, was 
more distinguished for sociability and personal charm 
than for regularity of features. A family friend charac- 
terized her as "an old-fashioned New England gentle- 
woman/' She was well liked by many warm friends, a 
group which soon included George. Exeter provided 
ample opportunities for boating, and the young couple 
developed a fondness for picnics. The Gordon cows 
supplied plenty of thick cream for the coffee often taken 
on their expeditions. Frances, who was skilful at the 
guitar, as well as in painting china, taught George many 
things he had overlooked, in spite of his far-ranging 



studies among them, how to play "The Spanish Fan- 
dango" on the guitar. They became engaged about two 
years before their marriage, which was to be a happy 
one for both. 

The wedding took place on Tuesday, June 29, 1886, 
on the Gordon estate, near the house at Court and Pine 
Streets, where the Frenches, including Daniel Chester 
French, the future sculptor of such statues as that of 
John Harvard, had lived. About ten minutes before the 
wedding a woman not far away from the house on Front 
Street, where George roomed, saw him rush out of the 
house and hurry to the tailor's, though apparently in 
behalf of one of the ushers. 9 The grounds were elabo- 
rately decorated with potted plants and flowers, and a 
large wedding bell of roses hung in the center of the 
grove of pine trees on the east side of the house. During 
the ceremony the wedding party stood beneath this belL 
George's sister, Lettie, was one of the bridesmaids, and 
her future husband, Brent Johnston, was among the 
ushers, as was also George's friend Charles Snow. The 
refreshments for the guests, not to speak of the feast 
spread for Gordon's employees and their families, were, 
according to the News Letter, "served by the ushers 
with lavish prodigality." As the Exonian later indicated, 
presents from the young professor's Latin classes (he had 
been elevated from an instructorship to a professorship 
in 1885) were among the wedding gifts. At 5:45 the 
young Kittredges passed through a shower of rice and 
were soon on their way to the station, where they caught 
the six o'clock train for Boston. Two days later they 
sailed for Europe on the Catalonia. 

A letter from Mrs. Kittredge, dated August 1, 1886, 
and addressed to her friend Frances Perry of Exeter, 



tells of her travels up to the time of her arrival in Leip- 
zig. After landing in Liverpool, the Kittredges met the 
historian Charles Kendall Adams, the new president of 
Cornell University, and his companion Albert H. Pat- 
tengill, an associate professor of Greek at the University 
of Michigan. The four traveled together for a time, and 
Mrs. Kittredge found their discussions, often of teach- 
ers, teaching, and colleges, "interesting and edifying." 
"Imagine me my dear one girl with these learned per- 
sonages for 5 days!" She adds that not a minute was 
wasted. They went from Liverpool to Chester ("my first 
love"), Shrewsbury, Warwick (Warwick Castle was "fas- 
cinating"), and Oxford, seeing the sights chiefly in a 
landau in which four people fitted nicely. Having ar- 
rived in London, she and George saw some of the usual 
sights but found "the pleasantest day of all" the time 
spent chiefly on a trip by steamer on the Thames to 
Hampton Court. They remained in London almost a 
fortnight (on the two Sundays they heard sermons by 
the eminent minister C. H. Spurgeon and Canon F. W. 
Farrar and Canon Henry P. Liddon, the latter at St. 
Paul's). After leaving London, they went from Harwich 
to Rotterdam and on their way to Amsterdam stopped 
over for a night and day at The Hague. From Amster- 
dam they went to Cologne, where an ascent to the top 
of the cathedral left Frances "perfectly breathless for 
five minutes" before she could enjoy the view. By boat 
they went down the Rhine from Cologne to Mainz, 
staying overnight at Coblenz and Mainz, and then pro- 
ceeded to Frankfurt, where they took the train to Leip- 
zig. The train was so crowded that the Kittredges could 
not sit together. Frances amused herself by reading 
Kenilworth, and George became acquainted with the 



U. S. Consul at Leipzig, who gave him tips on boarding 
places. The young couple settled down for a few months 
at Flossplatz 28, near a park and not far from a wood, 
with "a bit of garden behind the house." Here they 
rented a suite of rooms from "a pleasant old landlady" 
who spoke "excellent German" an important point for 
the two Americans. 

George, of course, already had considerable knowl- 
edge of German. He once told a joke on himself, show- 
ing how he had been caught napping. After his train 
had crossed the German border, he had walked out on 
the platform and accosted an official in uniform and 
spiked helmet: "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" The stiff-look- 
ing German, after glancing at him briefly and turning 
away, replied, "Aber naturlich sprech' ich Deutsch!" 10 

Except for George's brief visit to Italy, the months 
that followed were spent chiefly at the universities of 
Leipzig and Tubingen. At the latter place, during the 
spring semester, though not regularly matriculated, he 
was enrolled among those authorized to attend lectures, 
and was registered as living at 5 Hirschauer Street. 11 He 
preferred to carry on his learning informally rather 
than through formal enrollment in courses. Germany 
was then, of course, regarded as the best center of gradu- 
ate studies, the mother of distinguished philologists and 
folklorists. One of the former, Eduard Sievers, then of 
the University of Tubingen, whose reputation for lin- 
guistic and stylistic studies was eventually international, 
became a warm friend. Apparently it was chiefly during 
his stay in Germany that George acquired his knowl- 
edge of Icelandic, a language which he was to teach for 
a few years at Harvard. His stay in Germany greatly in- 
creased his knowledge of German, too. Indeed he wrote 



for a learned German periodical an article, dated ' 'Tu- 
bingen, 18 Mai, 1887," on a point in Beowulf. 12 

George always remembered his months in Germany 
with pleasure. He told his son, when the latter joined 
the Army in World War I, that, though it was necessary 
to fight the Germans, he should not hate them. The 
Kittredges returned to America a little more than a 
year after their departure. During George's last year of 
teaching at Phillips Exeter the new family were to live 
on Pine Street, where research and writing were to 
begin claiming some of his time. There, too, on August 
25, 1887, his first child, Frances, was born. 


The Teacher 


IN THE FALL of 1888 Kittredge began his long career of 
teaching at Harvard. From that year till 1901 he lived at 
9 Hilliard Street, where his two younger children were 
born Henry in 1890 and Dora three years later. In 
1901 he moved across the street to 8 Hilliard, a slightly 
larger Victorian house, with plenty of room for his 
family and growing library. The Harvard Yard was 
near, and, as may have seemed appropriate to men as 
familiar with ancient Rome as Kittredge and A. A. 
Howard, his classmate and friend who had for some 
years before 1901 lived at 8 Hilliard Street, in walking 
to the Yard one could pass, like a Roman conqueror, 
through the Appian Way. 

When Kittredge began to teach at Harvard, its fac- 
ulty under President Eliot included Charles Eliot Nor- 
ton, Benjamin O. Peirce, Josiah Royce, William James, 
George Herbert Palmer, F. W. Taussig, A. B. Hart, 
Edward Channing, A. S. Hill, L. B. R. Briggs, Barrett 
Wendell, and others of note. Kittredge was soon recog- 
nized as the peer of such men. Though he began as an 
instructor, with a salary equal to an assistant professor's, 
in the fall of 1890 he achieved an assistant professor's 
rank, too, and in 1895 became a full professor. During 
the academic year 1894-95 he succeeded Professor Child 
as chairman of the Division of Modern Languages, with 
jurisdiction over the granting of degrees in that divi- 
sion and hence with supervision of degree examina- 
tions; this post he held, with the exception of 1898-99, 



down to 1924, when he relinquished it to C. H. Grand- 
gent. During 1898-99 Professor H. C. G. von Jagemann 
took over the duties of the position. A possible reason 
for the substitution during that year was that Kittredge 
was then supplementing his regular income by teaching 
a course in Shakespeare at a preparatory school, Miss 
Ellen M. Folsom's School for girls at 19 Chestnut Street, 
Boston. 1 

At various times, too, Kittredge held the acting 
chairmanship of Comparative Literature and was chair- 
man from 1917 to 1936, but this appointment, like the 
one just mentioned, entailed few administrative duties 
chiefly the listing, under "Comparative Literature/' of 
courses given by professors in such departments as Eng- 
lish, German, and French. Those who took degrees in 
Comparative Literature were never numerous. In spite 
of some erroneous statements in print, at no time did 
Kittredge consent to act as chairman of the Department 
of English. He had his generous share of administrative 
work, on the Administrative Board of the Graduate 
School, as a member of the Library Council, and on 
committees. No doubt, too, he had as much to do with 
the policy of the English Department as any member of 
it, being concerned, for instance, that those added to 
the Department should be men of genuine learning and 
able teachers, but he managed to avoid some adminis- 
trative chores and worries that would have interfered 
with his main interests, teaching and scholarship. 

For the record, what did he teach? Except for a 
three-year period of teaching English composition, Eng- 
lish B, which he shared with Barrett Wendell and others 
(one of their assistants, for a time, was George P. Baker, 
soon to join the faculty as a teacher of the drama), from 



the beginning his courses concerned either literature or 
advanced linguistics. From 1889 to 1896 he usually 
taught Icelandic, or Old Norse, during alternate years. 
After 1890 he taught during more than twenty years, in 
the Department of German, a course in Germanic 
Mythology, similar in content to his part in Germanic 
and Celtic Religions, a graduate course given jointly 
after 1903, usually in alternate years, with F. N. Robin- 
son, a Celticist as well as a Chaucerian. For several years 
he taught Historical English Grammar. Annually, he 
gave a few lectures in English 28 (a collaborative survey 
course), on the English language, Chaucer, the epic, and 
the ballad. Two graduate courses which he made his 
own (catalogs listed them under "Comparative Litera- 
ture") were the English Metrical Romances, beginning 
in 1892, and the English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 
to which he fell heir after the death of Professor Child. 
A few times he taught Bacon and Milton, as well as 
Anglo-Saxon Poetry, but the latter soon yielded to Beo- 
wulf, shared with F. N. Robinson during the years when 
they also shared Germanic and Celtic Religions. He also 
taught Middle English a few times and Chaucer many 
times sometimes the introductory course, English 1, 
with F. N. Robinson and others, sometimes a Chaucer 
seminar instead. Finally, there was English 2, the popu- 
lar course in Shakespeare, shared in the early years with 
Professor Child but, after the latter's death, with no- 
body. Though after William Allan Neilson left for 
Smith College, Kittredge also taught a Shakespeare sem- 
inar and a class in Shakespeare in which the lecturer 
used a different method, touching on nearly all the 
plays instead of concentrating on a few, English 2 above 
other courses came to be associated with the name of 



Kittredge. He gave it at Radcliffe, as well as at Harvard; 
in his later years, few of his other courses were repeated 
at Radcliffe. 

In Kittredge's teaching career many dramatic inci- 
dents occurred, and many legends grew up. The secret 
of the legends lay partly in his overpowering personali- 
ty. Radcliffe students said they felt like getting off the 
sidewalk when they saw him coming. A woman who de- 
clared in advance her intention of remaining unaffected 
by Kittredge, later, after meeting him, said that he 
"short-circuited" her own personality. Her husband, a 
former student, wrote in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin 
in 1936: "His dominating height, his imperious man- 
ner, his Olympian reserve place him among the captains 
and the kings. His luminous white hair and beard flame 
around a face the eyes of which are difficult for most 
people to meet. He seems a timeless being. Knowing 
him is to understand how Alexander, Arthur, and 
Charlemagne kindled the imagination. . . . His incan- 
descence made a roomful of handsome young Harvard 
men seem but votive lights." 2 

An undergraduate once recorded his impressions in 
a theme for another instructor: "That Professor Kitt- 
redge was a man of eccentric character I had heard be- 
fore I came to Harvard, but the introduction badly 
prepared me for the distinguished-looking, forceful, 
and aristocratic man whom I have since met in the class- 
room. White hair and white full-beard, blue eyes of 
wonderful power and depth, a face worn and slightly 
reddish, give to his appearance a patriarchal character, 
borne out by fact, for he is an interpreter of the law as 
truly as was Moses." 

Several generations of students were to remember 


the tall, bearded figure, clad in the gray suit, somehow 
always neatly pressed "one of the handsomest male 
animals I had ever seen," wrote a graduate student who 
didn't like him. The beard turned white before its 
owner was fifty, so that those who knew him long, like 
William Lyon Phelps, declared that Kittredge's appear- 
ance for his last forty years remained almost unchanged, 
though photographs hardly bear out the literal truth of 
this statement. Kittredge's father had a long white 
beard, and this may be the reason why he possessed 
one rather than, as has been hinted, to conceal "a weak 
chin." The beard was entirely natural, in spite of 
rumors about milk-shampoos or dustings of powdered 
chalk. Exactly when it became white is uncertain. A 
man who met Kittredge about 1902 remembered it as 
grayish. Indeed the orator who conferred Kittredge's 
LL.D. degree at Colby College in 1940 stated: "He has 
looked like a venerable Viking since he was thirty, and 
Viking-like, his progress in the conquest of knowledge 
has been ruthless and superb." The beard inspired a 
number of stories in which Santa Glaus has a part. In- 
deed little boys in the street were known to say, "Hello, 
Santa Glaus," and members of Kittredge's family heard 
strange children approach him and ask him for a doll or 
a pair of skates. But "Santa Glaus" could be derogatory 
for adults. Some legendary tales relate to Kittredge's 
later difficulties with traffic on Harvard Square, where 
he occasionally waited for several cars to pass before 
raising his cane as a signal of his bold intention to get 
across the street. A taxi driver, variously reported, prob- 
ably did say something like "Step on it, Santa Glaus, or 
they'll run over your beard." 

As three students were walking across the Yard on a 



rainy day, they saw a coal truck drawn up opposite 
Hollis Hall, with a chute across the brick pathway. 
Since the road was muddy when Kittredge appeared, 
students saw him waiting for the chute to be moved, 
tapping his cane impatiently. "One of the coal men, a 
giant Negro as black as his product, turned and glow- 
ered at him. 'Hold yo'ah watah, Santy Glaus, hold yo'ah 
watah,' he said. And Kitty waited patiently until in due 
course the coal chute was removed and he could pass/' 
To the three undergraduates it was "a dreadful example 
of lese majeste, and the first time that we had ever seen 
Kitty speechless/' 3 

"Lese majeste'' is a phrase occurring to the few 
others who have chanced to notice some incident seem- 
ing to challenge the dignity of "Mr. Kittredge," as stu- 
dents and most colleagues called him. (He was "George" 
to several older friends, especially to his Harvard class- 
mates, and of course to his wife.) 

Kittredge's bearing and deportment inspired re- 
spect. A story is told by a colleague to illustrate a sense 
of personal dignity more common in an older genera- 
tion than in ours. Two small boys hurled a rock at 
Warren House, where an honors examination was being 
Conducted. In his haste to catch the boys, Kittredge 
picked up a hat some sizes too small for him and dashed 
out the door. The hat added an unintended comic effect 
when he brought back the boys to apologize, hoping to 
teach them a lesson in manners and conduct. 4 A few 
otherwise puzzling incidents sprang from his sense of 
personal dignity. Once he was talking to a graduate stu- 
dent who, having been at a blackboard, turned to walk 
to his desk. "Don't turn your back on me, Sir," Kitt- 
redge thundered. 



At the first meeting of a class, Kittredge usually 
trimmed the numbers, sometimes because of limitations 
in seating, sometimes for other reasons. In one instance, 
about 275 had chosen to enroll for English 2, the course 
in Shakespeare, a number which he tried to get down to 
about 200 and finally succeeded in reducing to 225. He 
asked several students to explain why they wanted to 
take the course, allowing them to remain if their ex- 
planation was satisfactory. 5 Students who persisted were 
often rewarded by their persistence. A graduate student 
wishing to enroll for a seminar usually limited to twelve 
appeared in spite of the limitation. He was told: "We 
will have no auditors here, Sir. You may go/' In the stu- 
dent's words, "Go I did, feeling as I had never felt be- 
fore." Later when a friend in the course interceded for 
him, Kittredge said, "Very well, I will entertain a peti- 
tion from Mr. S , but if he falls below your recom- 
mendation, his blood will be on your head." So the stu- 
dent enrolled and felt and looked like the thirteenth 
man till with his first report he won the instructor's 

The first session of English 2 of course varied some- 
what from year to year. Since Kittredge thought that a 
teacher needs only "knowledge of a subject, adequate 
vocal cords, and students/' he might include some vig- 
orous observations on the false emphasis in American 
education on teaching rather than learning observa- 
tions made in the spirit of a letter he once sent to a man 
who asked permission to audit his course: "Of course 
you may attend as many exercises in English 2 as you 
wish. However, you must not expect to get enlighten- 
ment from me on 'methods of teaching/ I am a mere 



opportunist in this regard. I believe that it is possible 
for any normal person to learn anything; but I am very 
skeptical of anybody's ability to teach: that is, in the 
sense in which this verb is commonly understood by 
American students of 'education.' " 6 When a pedagog- 
ical "expert" propounded a question regarding the 
length of time for preparing lectures, Kittredge at first 
refused to answer; it was, he said, his trade secret, and 
then he added "Just a lifetime can't you see that?" 7 

A student must be reminded of his responsibility. 
When one said, "You gave me a D/' Kittredge replied, 
"I did not give it to you; you got it yourself." He was 
ready to admit that he may have known a few "tricks" 
of teaching. One fundamental he had known from the 
beginning, to leave the student in no doubt of what was 
expected. Naturally, what was expected was not some- 
thing shoddy. Students might be warned about coming 
to class unprepared. On the first day, or later, they 
might be told, too, of certain rules. 

One of these rules concerned entering the classroom 
with a hat on. Historic Harvard Hall, built in 1766 on 
the site of an older building destroyed by fire, Kittredge 
thought worthy of respect, as on occasion he explained. 
Those who forgot their hats were not invariably greeted 
with a shout like "Take off that man's hat," as may have 
happened a few times. Kittredge looked at one offender 
with sorrowful patience his "terrible patience," as an 
observer described it. He had told the class from the 
beginning of the term to take off their hats, not to show 
respect for the teacher but for the classroom. Vacation 
was beginning the next day "The trouble is that you 
are thinking of tomorrow and of your old home man- 
ners!" Did Kittredge ever remove somebody's hat with 



a cane? Many doubt this, especially those who thought 
him "a great gentleman." To be sure, he could seem a 
formidable, even menacing figure to youths wearing 
hats in the wrong places, such as Widener Library, 
where he was once observed to tell a student to take off 
his hat; the man did so and swiftly vanished from sight 
into the cataloguing room. The story that Kittredge re- 
moved the hat of a man whose face was turned and then 
discovered that the owner of the hat was Kirsopp Lake, 
the Biblical scholar, is pure legend, though myth-mak- 
ers elaborated an ensuing argument in which Biblical 
language vied with Shakespearian for supremacy. 8 

Various prohibitions were intended to prevent any 
lessening of the class's attention. Late arrivals were for- 
bidden. Needless to say, the class usually did not leave 
before the teacher did. Possibly Kittredge may have re- 
membered that the aging Professor Child had called to 
the front a small group asked to recite for the day, 
whereupon several other students promptly left or were 
inattentive, since Child was near-sighted. 9 

Coughing would have made it difficult for the lec- 
turer to be heard. Kittredge treated it as a nervous re- 
flex, and was successful in stopping it. His campaigns 
against it made an impression. In the New York Times 
Magazine for April 19, 1936, Lewis Nichols wrote: 
"Even now he seems to stand in the wings to denounce 
coughing while Miss Cornell gives the balcony scene." 
The Harvard Lampoon for February 23, 1927, con- 
tained a picture explained by the caption: "In spite of 
many years of careful training, Professor Kitteridge's 
[sic] car suddenly breaks into a spasm of coughing." 

Yawning, a mark of inattention and bad manners, 
was a more serious offense than coughing. Transgressors 



were not treated gently. Once when a man yawned, 
Kittredge stopped pacing up and down on the platform 
and stared at the man, who didn't notice but continued 
to stretch himself. At length Kittredge said, "Finely 
done. We all stretch like that, but most of us when we 
stretch like that cover our mouths with one hand or 
two if necessary, as in the present case.'' 10 

"Who was that boor who yawned audibly?" Kitt- 
redge once asked, with what a former student called "a 
well-rounded envenomed 'boor* such as might have 
been uttered by the Old Irish satirists, a word with 
power to lay the flesh bare to the bone." After a tense 
silence, a man held up his hand: "It was I, sir." "And 
did you mean to interrupt my class by yawning?" "No, 
sir. I was very tired, and I forgot myself, sir. I am very 
sorry." Kittredge withdrew his accusation, granting that 
the offense was unintended and the offender a forgetful 
gentleman rather than a boor. 11 

He was glad to apologize if he discovered his mis- 
take. Once he excoriated a youth who was apparently 
reading a newspaper in class (there used to be a teacher 
in the Yard in whose class students often read papers). 
At the end of the hour the supposed culprit explained 
that, having forgotten to bring his notebook, he had 
been using the margin of the newspaper for notes. The 
next class meeting began with Kittredge's apology. Ap- 
parently he remembered the incident when, some years 
later, he saw in the back row a student reading a paper. 
Kittredge stopped speaking and looked at him, as did 
the class. "Is that a newspaper?" "Yes." "Are you sure 
you were reading that newspaper?" The student ad- 
mitted he was. Kittredge explained that he had once 
accused a student of reading a newspaper but had later 


discovered it had been used for note-taking. When he 
was seven years old, a teacher had taken a knife from 
him, and he had always found it unaccountable that the 
knife was not returned. "Bring me the paper. At the 
end of the hour you will come and get it," and the 
youth did so just before Kittredge's usual dramatic exit. 

Inattention of any kind caught Kittredge's attention 
immediately. Once as he was discussing Hamlet, he 
noticed a drowsy-looking undergraduate. Forthwith he 
called on him to read and interpret a line. The student 
awoke with a start, having been nudged by the man 
next to him, who pointed to the line to be read, "Now 
might I do it pat, now he is praying/' which the student 
proceeded to read as if it were, "Now might I do it, 
Pat." "At last," commented Kittredge, "after three hun- 
dred years of Shakespeare scholarship, a new character 
is discovered." 

On the other hand, a student who, one morning fol- 
lowing all-night study, fell asleep in a crowded, over- 
heated room where the Beowulf class was held woke in 
time to see Kittredge looking at him. "I beg your par- 
don," he said. "Granted," the teacher replied, the lec- 
ture continued, and the student remembered the inci- 
dent as an instance of his teacher's courtesy. The rest of 
the class did not know what had happened. 12 

A deplorable habit of which Kittredge's seeming 
severity must have cured many persons is the use of the 
vocalized pause the "uh" or "and-uh" habit which 
makes so many speakers tiresome. A student in the 
Beowulf class who used "uh" at the end of each sentence 
was first told, with a glance of disapproval, "I had that 
habit when I was in preparatory school, but a teacher 
broke me of it." Somewhat disconcerted, the man recit- 



ing began the next sentence with "uh." "Enough of 
this/' his mentor bellowed; "if you will really look at 
the text, you will see that the syllable you are using does 
not appear." 13 Some of Kittredge's students have re- 
ported carrying on successful campaigns against the 
vocalized pause. 

Many have believed, no doubt correctly, that usual- 
ly Kittredge's "anger" was assumed for pedagogic pur- 
poses and seemed convincing because he was a good 
actor. A striking dedication of a book mentions "wis- 
dom and fury": 

Three teachers marked me deeper than the rest: 

Of many good, triumvirate of best. 

Behind the three, snow-bearded Kittredge stands, 

Twin bolts wisdom and fury in his hands. 

Unknown to him, by him I fruitful am, 

And thousands upon thousands is my name. 14 

In spite of the stories, displays of seeming anger were 
surprisingly rare; many students do not remember a 
single occasion, or more than one or twojust enough 
to put a class on its mettle during an entire semester. 
On the other hand, there is evidence that, rarely, he did 
lose his temper and regretted doing so. Long hours and 
little sleep, a state of nervous tension, could have added 
to his irritability. It has been plausibly suggested, too, 
that Kittredge's classroom manner was to some degree 
influenced by a sense of insecurity. He once confided 
that for twenty-five years after beginning to teach at 
Phillips Exeter he had "a recurrent dream": "He 
dreamt that, as he began to talk, his students, one by 
one, got up and in a few minutes emptied his room." 15 
Kittredge was impatient with either superciliousness 
or stupidity. He may not have considered stupid the 



student who could not define the diaphragm and who 
was asked to come to class next time prepared to discuss 
that organ. 16 What he thought of the youth who mis- 
pronounced "womb" as "wahmb" is another matter. 
"What did you say?" he asked after the culprit had read 
the passage from Shakespeare containing the word. 
When he heard "wahmb" repeated, Kittredge collapsed 
dramatically into a chair, like one bewitched, as the 
class became hysterical. 

At such moments the class enjoyed the student's dis- 
comfiture. To be sure, there were times when the in- 
structor was at fault, as when his levity at the expense 
of a Midwestern student's pronunciation of r apparent- 
ly caused the student to leave the course an instance 
which Kittredge would have regretted if he had known 
of it. Undeniably embarrassment was sometimes keen. 
"Every now and then, at irregular and harassing peri- 
ods," a former student wrote, "he pauses to ask a ques- 
tion, picking out at random a name from the class list 
and making that name uncomfortable for three genera- 
tions." 17 Though one must allow for the hyperbole, 
some classroom episodes were undoubtedly memorable. 
One day a graduate student pronounced lago's name as 
"Eye-eh-go." "How did you pronounce that?" Kittredge 
asked, with apparent annoyance. After the student re- 
peated the pronunciation, Kittredge roared, "Well, 
don't pronounce it that way any more." Some years 
later, learning that a fellow instructor had taken Kitt- 
ridge's course, a former student observed that he could 
determine whether they had taken the course at the 
same time because of the mispronunciation of "lago" 
by an unfortunate graduate student, and he mentioned 



the incident. "Yes," replied the instructor, "I was the 
student." 18 

Several appreciated the Kittredge answer when an 
intellectual featherweight asked about a phrase refer- 
ring to Falstaff, "a tun of man": "What might a tun of 
man be?" Kittredge looked astonished and then "apo- 
plectic." "A tun?" he answered. "Do you mean to tell 
me you don't know what a tun is? [The word had prob- 
ably been explained before.] A tun? N-u-t spelled back- 
wards?" 19 

Possibly the most famous single incident in English 
2 occurred when a student was unable to interpret 
"memorize another Golgotha" ("make memorable an- 
other Calvary") in Macbeth. Some years later Kittredge 
recorded students' various explanations of "Golgotha": 
"a supernatural man-eating beast"; "a giant dragon"; 
"a famous warrior of mythology"; "the reference is ob- 
scure. Shakespeare probably took it from Ovid"; "a 
battle in Roman history in which Hannibal was de- 
feated." 20 At the time of the incident, however, about 
1903, he explained that "Golgotha" was another name 
for Calvary, only to discover that the student reciting 
had not heard of Calvary. Looking thunderstruck, Kitt- 
redge hesitated and then dismissed the class, saying that 
he would not keep for a moment longer any class that 
did not know the meaning of Calvary. They must find 
out for themselves. No member of the class ever forgot 
that episode. 

Dismissal of a class was rare even for Kittredge. 
After one such dismissal he was amused to receive a 
letter from a student who complained of being cheated 
out of time paid for by a fee. Kittredge suggested that 
he might take the matter up at the Bursar's Office. It is 



on record that Kittredge occasionally dismissed a class 
for reasons not connected with the conduct of its mem- 
bersfor instance, if an insufficient number of chairs 
were provided or if the smell of paint or turpentine 
pervaded the room. One day he asked his class whether 
they did not smell paint. Some did. He then loked all 
around the room, finding no paint in sight, and con- 
tinued to look, all the time using his nose as well as 
his eyes. At last he discovered a paint can in a shaft in 
the wall where a workman had left it. Much pleased 
that he had solved the mystery, Kittredge triumphantly 
picked up the bucket, walked to the window, and with- 
out hesitation threw it out, his students no doubt con- 
cerned for the safety of pedestrians who might be pass- 
ing the building. 

Teachers who have contended with distracting 
noises during a class session may envy one who could 
do something about them. Kittredge once told a student 
to get on a chair and tell a man mowing the lawn near 
Sever Hall to stop mowing there. "The Professor says 
for you to stop," the student told the worker, who con- 
tinued to mow. His patience at last exhausted, Kitt- 
redge stepped to the window and mounted the chair, 
so that he could thrust his face and whiskers through 
the window: "I sent word for you to stop, now I tell you 
to stop, and if you don't stop I'll come out and see that 
you stop/* Students later reported that they had seen the 
man running away. 

Several stories record difficulties within the class- 
room, some dealing with window shades. Once Kitt- 
redge tried to pull up a window shade in Harvard Hall, 
and it fell to the floor. "If the janitor asks what hap- 
pened to this shade, tell him a cyclone hit it" was the 



remark afterwards remembered. Another window shade 
in Harvard Hall would not stay down. After trying un- 
successfully to hold it in place, Kittredge gave it a yank 
which sent it out of reach. Then he tried to pull the 
cord-ring down with a window hook. After some mis- 
applied effort because of the sun in his eyes, he finally 
brought the shade down to the floor with a crash. After 
surveying the scene ruefully, he turned to the class and 
said, "If any of you think you can make that thing 
work, go ahead. You have just witnessed a victory of 
matter over mind." Once, when a window blind was 
slamming in the wind during a class at Radcliffe, Kitt- 
redge strode to the window and threw the blind to the 
ground a story below. He was not angry, contrary to 
what many of the young women thought, as the nar- 
rator remarked, though he may have been impatient 
with the noise; but he certainly had in mind the dra- 
matic quality of the gesture. 21 

Professors are not usually assumed to be mechanical- 
ly adept. Kittredge could on occasion superintend a 
furnace or build a henhouse for his father (though he 
did not like hens, he was around them long enough to 
acquire notions of their intelligence which he could use 
in discussing Chaucer's Pertelote or in explaining why 
Falstaff greets the Hostess as "Dame Partlet the Hen"). 
Still, that he was any more mechanically skillful than 
some non-professors is doubtful. The wife of a college 
president who remembered him as a considerate and 
delightful guest remembered also that he had been< 
sheepish after discovering that, after all, the bath water 
overflowed not because of a defective plumbing system 
but because he had overlooked an obvious way to turn 
off a faucet. 



There might be a touch of drama at the beginning 
of a class. One morning the students of Beowulf noticed 
that a youth had hung his raccoon overcoat on the hook 
in the front of the room where Kittredge usually hung 
his hat and coat. When he came in, he removed the 
overcoat, placed it on top of a wastebasket, and put his 
own coat in the usual place. 22 In a somewhat similar 
episode, a woman student at Radcliffe hung "a large 
and frilly hat" on a hook usually reserved for Kitt- 
redge's coat. After he entered the room, he picked up 
the hat, carried it at arm's length as if it was insanitary, 
and dropped it on the edge of the platform in front of 
the room before hanging up his own hat and coat. 23 

Sensitiveness to signs of disrespect could of course 
include concern for the morale or even manners of a 
class. One time when he came in unusually late, some 
students started stamping their feet. Kittredge paused 
in the aisle, his face flushed. Before turning and leaving 
he explained that he would consider an apology from 
the class; otherwise its members would be failed at mid- 
years. At the beginning of the next class meeting he 
stated that representatives of the class had apologized in 
its behalf and that he had accepted the apology. 

Kittredge never seemed at a loss for words. One day 
a pointer he was brandishing struck the floor too hard 
and came in two. When some students incautiously 
laughed, he glared at them fiercely: "A fine sense of 
humor you have!" Then he drew his arm back and 
hurled the rest of the pointer, as if it was a spear, into 
the corner of the room, with the challenge "Now 
laugh!" to the then subdued class. 24 After he had ex- 
plained a passage in Shakespeare, on another occasion, 
a visitor called his attention to his having given a differ- 



ent explanation "when I took the course twenty years 
ago," Kittredge quoted a Greek proverb which may be 
translated, "As we grow older, we also grow wiser." 

After he reached middle age, Kittredge began to 
wear spectacles, at first "the formidable blue glasses" 
mentioned by a former student in 1913. But later classes 
will recall that, as he talked in English 2, he might walk 
back and forth on the platform fingering or whirling 
his pince-nez, not wofn except when reading his "acro- 
batic glasses," as the Crimson once described them, 
since the spring and chain to which they were attached 
enabled them to return swiftly to their position on his 
coat as soon as they were released. In using his glasses as 
a prop, in the theatrical sense, Kittredge anticipated the 
advice of Winston Churchill. 

Though as he walked on the platform, his eyes were 
often closed, he neatly avoided its edge. He could not 
remember ever having slipped off the platform, and re- 
marking, as a story often repeated has it, "At last I find 
myself on a level with my audience." 25 But one day he 
did slip just after he said, "The Elizabethan stage was 
an unstable structure" a saying which he immediately 
adapted to the situation. Similarly, he often exhibited 
an uncanny ability to apply a quotation from Shake- 
speare to a situation outside its context. 

All who ever sat in a class under Kittredge, whether 
in his earlier or later years, were impressed by the swift- 
ness of his answers, always given readily, without con- 
sultation of book or notes, from what appeared to be 
inexhaustible knowledge. At times, too, he may have 
seemed impatient of delay by students. One who said, 
"Well," followed by a pause, in order to indicate that 
he had heard the question and was preparing a reply, 



was told, "The grave yawns; the Devil waits." Still Kitt- 
redge could on a rare occasion spend as much as forty 
minutes in getting an answer to a simple question in a 
Beowulf class, and once permitted a man to translate 
forty minutes without interruption. 26 

Kittredge's dramatic exits were a fitting conclusion 
to his classes. These seemed natural enough to a man 
whom his friend of some forty years, William Lyon 
Phelps, described as always simple and natural. 27 They 
were so characteristic that undergraduate publications 
commented upon them. For example, Mondays at Nine, 
a volume collected by the Lampoon, began thus some 
lines accompanying a drawing of Kittredge (with a hoe): 

This is our fanner, stern and rather odd; 
Although a mortal, yet he acts like God. 
Behind him walks the world, no one before, 
No living man precedes him through a door. 

A picture of a long rod projecting from the floor of Kitt- 
redge's classroom appeared in the Lampoon, a picture 
suggesting the rod as an aid to the Kittredge dramatic 
exit; he could slide down that rod and speed up the 
exit. Nobody knew exactly how he could time the exit, 
since he seemed to rely little upon his watch. A former 
Radcliffe student remembered also how several of the 
class gazed with fascination as he managed to step into 
his overshoes without stooping. He usually continued to 
talk as he made preparations for leaving; he walked 
down the aisle still talking, the final emphatic point 
coming as he stood at the door. A graduate student re- 
membered an illustrative incident. One morning Kitt- 
redge was discussing some obviously fanciful explana- 
tions of myth in the nineteenth century by an English 



folklorist named George W. Cox. "But we should re- 
member/' he said, as he grasped the knob of the door, 
"that Cox was a very learned man, better informed" 
here he opened the door "than any man 7 ' here Kitt- 
redge stepped into the hall "in this room/' 28 


English 2, which required reading six plays inten- 
sively, was a way of learning how to read Shakespeare- 
only one of several ways to study Shakespeare, as Kitt- 
redge emphasized. It was no more "Germanic" than the 
method of explication de textea method, some think, 
in which Kittredge had no superior is Germanic. The 
final examination included fifty or more quotations 
from Shakespeare which the student was to interpret 
and discuss, identifying the context and supplying perti- 
nent information. He would be asked to quote a few 
lines from the several passages, usually five or six hun- 
dred lines in all, which he had memorized passages 
worth knowing. Kittredge once stated that a former 
student had obtained a position by quoting some lines 
he had memorized in English 2 to a prospective em- 
ployer who believed students did not know any Shake- 
speare;* and that another had used memorized passages 
to soften moments of loneliness in his cabin in the 
West. There was usually a question on more general 
topics, and one in which the student was to draw on 

* This was not intended as a serious illustration of the economic 
value of English 2. It may be pertinent to note, however, that the presi- 
dent of Neiman-Marcus in Dallas once listed English 2 first among the 
courses which supplied "many of the ideas, facts and theories" that "I 
have been able to put to work in my business life" (Stanley Marcus, 
"Best of Two Worlds," College in a Yard, ed. Brooks Atkinson [Cam- 
bridge, 1957], p. 171). 



knowledge derived from supplementary reading. In 
later years such reading often included Neilson and 
Thorndike's The Facts about Shakespeare and Kitt- 
redge's own Tercentenary Lecture Shakspere, contain- 
ing in condensed form much that he considered essen- 
tial. In assigning his own book, he once mentioned his 
small royalty from its sale: "If anyone wants it re- 
funded, let him come to me; but it won't pay his fare 
to Boston"; on another occasion, "The royalty on a 
copy of this book is not enough to buy me a cigar of 
course it might buy the kind of cigar you smoke, but 
not the kind I smoke." 29 

Some students prepared for the English 2 examina- 
tion by writing out on slips of paper all the passages 
discussed; by going over the slips, usually with fellow 
students, they discovered those they could not explain 
and eventually learned to explain them, too. Regardless 
of preparation, to finish the examination in three hours 
required writing at top speed and filling more than one 
or two examination books a feat achieved by a relative- 
ly small minority. But most of even the C students felt 
that the course was distinctly worth while; here is the 
comment made by one of them soon after finishing it 
in 1911-12: 

Although there are few notes here, this represents one 
of the best and hardest courses I ever took. We read only 
5 plays [usually six were read; in some years one might be 
assigned but not discussed in class] during the whole year. 
One would think such a long time spent and only 5 plays 
read would be wasted, but far from it. The Prof is the 
most wonderful man I ever knew. He is a scholar and he 
knows life. He takes up these plays about 5 pages a day & 
extracts the human nature from them. It is as good as a 



course in psychology and you certainly learn more about 
actual life. I feel now that I can really read and enjoy 
Shakespeare. We had to commit about 600 lines which I 
didn't do. I got about BOO or 400. The exam held us re- 
sponsible for every word in those 5 plays. 

Old Kitty has a large bushy white beard that is just a 
trifle stained where his cigar touches it. He is very dignified 
and has an awful temper. 30 

"It is quite untrue to say/' wrote another former 
student, ". . . that the course was largely philological. 
Now and then Professor Kittredge paused to give an 
interesting glimpse of an episode in the biography of a 
word; but all these bits of word history bore directly on 
his main purpose. He gave much time to the discussion 
and interpretation of the characters, with occasional 
praise or pungent criticism of famous performers. The 
course left with the student a sense of intimate acquain- 
tance with the characters and the plays, and an under- 
standing of Elizabethan English which enabled him to 
go on reading Shakespeare and his contemporaries in- 
telligently." 31 

To hold the attention of a large class, often on tex- 
tual details or meanings, year after year, keeping its 
members constantly under pressure to do their best, 
required resourcefulness not given to many. Naturally, 
those who tried to imitate Kittredge imitated only the 
external mannerisms, the lion's roar without his power 
and strength. More important than his appreciation of 
dramatic moments in the classroom was his ability to 
dramatize literary characters and situations. He could 
respond to and make his students feelthe high poetry 
in the scenes dealing with young love in Romeo and 
Juliet or The Winter's Tale as easily as he could make 
them appreciate the comic inventiveness of Falstaff. 



In the Beowulf class, the schoolmaster was less in 
evidence, though even here there might be fireworks 
once or twice a term. He was mainly concerned with the 
appreciation of Beowulf, which he sometimes translated 
himself, bringing out the grim humor of understate- 
ment and the stirring quality of heroic passages. His 
literary taste did not favor the highly artificial or the 
tortuous. Unlike William Empson, he did not speculate 
on types of artistic ambiguity; he thought Shakespeare, 
for instance, knew what he meant, and meant what he 
said. Just as, in his lecture to the Boston Commercial 
Club in 1911, on the businessman and literature, he 
could show that he relished humor like that in a specu- 
lative passage in an Old Norse saga, "whether there is 
any life left in a man after his head is cut off/' he could 
appreciate such understatements in Beowulf, to him the 
chief rival of the Poetic Edda among the medieval 
heroic poems, as the lines regarding those who, after 
Grendel's visit, made their beds elsewhere than in the 
hall. He defended the integrity of the poem from the 
fanciful theorists who believed in multiple authorship 
mainly because they did not understand the nuances of 
Old English poetic style, or because they found some- 
thing strange in supposed mixtures of pagan and 
Christian tradition. He knew the antiquities of ship 
burial, but he did not dwell on them to the neglect of 
the poet's fine use of Scyld's burial in a ship, his sailing 
away into the unplumbed mystery "nobody knew who 
harbored that freight!" 

In courses open only to graduate students, Kittredge 
revealed new facets of personality. In English 2 he 
might pace back and forth on a platform, not closing 
his eyes for long, but opening them as he turned to face 



the class; but in graduate courses, as if to rest his eyes 
and concentrate more completely on the topic discussed, 
he usually sat and talked to a small group with his eyes 
shut for a considerable time, opening them occasionally 
perhaps to look at the ceiling. Here he did not need to 
guard against indecorum or distractions in the class- 
room. Here students were treated like fellow scholars. 
Some acquired from the courses an interest in compara- 
tive "storyology." Others seem to have remembered 
them as primarily bibliographical; but an acquaintance 
with the relevant literary theories (in the course on the 
ballad, for instance, literary theorizing on language, 
myth, and the ballad was a topic of discussion) and with 
the important bibliographical tools was a logical prelude 
to the students' course papers, which seemed to receive 
more emphasis because, though the class was officially 
scheduled only for the first semester, it met during the 
second semester, usually at fortnightly intervals, to 
hear one or two of its members read their papers. 

These meetings, held at night at the Kittredge 
house, were for most students a new kind of experience. 
They were greeted cordially before entering Kittredge's 
large study, buttressed on all sides with books, which 
sometimes covered the table, too. The study was not 
exactly tidy. After a woman visitor peered into it she 
asked a member of the family, "Are you moving?" 32 
Once he had taken a book agent into this room to ask 
him where other books could be put, and he defended 
his wife's reputation as a housekeeper by explaining 
that she did not disturb anything in it; in spite of seem- 
ing chaos there, as in his study at the Widener Library, 
he knew where things were. 

Their host's geniality made the class feel more at 



ease. His attitude towards smoking was characteristic. 
When President Eliot asked Kittredge how he would 
define smoking too much, he replied, "Two cigars at 
once, Mr. Eliot." 33 After offering a certain student a 
cigar, Kittredge said, "There are cigarettes on the table 
if you prefer. My college roommate smoked cigarettes/' 
Then he added, after a significant pause, "He's dead 
now." The student took a cigar. At the end of the eve- 
ning, when the same student was the last to leave the 
study, another cigar was given to him. He put it in his 
pocket, but when he stood at the door, Kittredge said, 
"Here, take another. I usually smoke two before I go to 
bed. They help me to sleep." A non-smoker remem- 
bered taking his cigar home and wrapping paper 
around it with the notation, "This cigar was given me 
by George Lyman Kittredge." For some years he pre- 
served the memento in a trunk. 

Hundreds would recognize as factual the entry made 
in a diary in February of 1934: 

"The Ballads class met in Kittredge's library Mon- 
day night at 8. Kittredge seems to enjoy the occasion. 
He had a big box of cigars and two boxes of Turkish 
cigarettes, and kept passing them around. One man 
smoked four cigars during the performance, which 
lasted till 11:30. The library is a large and very dis- 
orderly room, the walls lined with books to the ceiling, 
books piled in each corner about five feet high, and 
books covering two or three long tables. . . . Kittredge 
turned out the lights except for the table lamp, during 
the reading of the papers, and little was visible but 
burning tobacco in a haze of smoke." 34 

While the papers were being read, Kittredge usually 
sat with his eyes closed, perhaps occasionally opening 



them to stir the fire, though sometimes remarks inter- 
rupted the reading. His comments at the end indicated 
that he had been listening intently. These comments 
might show how the parts of the papers would fit into a 
new synthesis, might suggest fresh points of view, or 
might supply additional references. To the reader they 
seemed fateful and could indeed prove so. They were 
likely to include something favorable, though praise 
was never injudicious. No overt disapproval was neces- 
sary to indicate lack of enthusiasm, but enthusiasm was 
a happy augury for one's academic future. 

The conversation at the meetings might range wide- 
ly, as the topics themselves did, because of the latitude 
in choice of subject. Invariably students were surprised 
at Kittredge's knowledge of the subjects chosen for 
papers. His intellectual curiosity was also vigorous. 
Once, when somebody referred to the numbers racket, 
Kittredge made a point of learning all the students 
knew about it before the subject changed. 35 

Many graduate students long remembered remarks 
or stories by Kittredge. Even on the most informal oc- 
casions such stories did not verge on the indecorous. 
True, he may occasionally have mentioned his favorite 
example of back-formation, mine, a new word made 
from an existing word, minor, like peddle from peddler. 
In the days preceding the introduction of bathrooms 
into dormitories, buildings serving some of the same 
purposes Harvard students had christened " University 
Minor/' In a joke appearing in a college publication, 
two students headed in opposite directions were as- 
signed a dialogue somewhat as follows: "Where are you 
going?" "I am going to my room. And you?" "I am 
going down to mine. 1 ' For students of Radcliffe and 



others unaware of the meaning of the back-formation, 
this apparently humorless joke set a new record in 

Kittredge was also known to recall that sitting be- 
hind two men discussing the virtues of a dog had given 
him a new notion of a grammatical category that might 
be called "the three degrees of comparison." One of the 
men thus summarized his conclusions about the dog: 
"He's a damned good dog! He's a God-damned good 
dog! But I don't know he's such a hell of a God-damned 
good dog/' 

Such stories were exceptional, for Kittredge had 
grown up in a generation with reticences different from 
ours. It would be easy to illustrate his own sense of 
those reticences. Once a graduate student lightly raised 
the question of what one should do if, after getting 
one's degree, some horrid person should raise a ques- 
tion one couldn't answer. After some discussion Kitt- 
redge suggested that an effective way to cope with the 
situation might be to look much shocked and to inti- 
mate that the answer was something that could not be 
mentioned among gentlemen. 36 

Many indeed were those impressed with the extent 
of his reading and his memory. When one who after- 
wards became a well-known scholar chanced to mention 
Aytoun's Firmilian, Kittredge remarked, "Firmilian 
contains the greatest stage direction in literature: 'The 
Cathedral is blown up/ " 3T Another student, who had 
just read Copley's Fig for Fortune, a book which he had 
discovered in working on his thesis, spoke of it to Kitt- 
redge, who remembered reading it several years before 
and who recalled it more clearly than the student who 
had just read it, as the latter afterwards thought. 38 



When a colleague remarked that a certain person was 
as old as King Tut, Kittredge remembered that King 
Tut was only about eighteen when he died. Many were 
so impressed with his learning, to say nothing of the 
elaborate files from which he could apparently supply 
references on any subject, that it did not occur to them 
that there was anything which Kittredge did not know. 
The few who did discover some small question which 
he could not answer or some book he had not heard of, 
decided he was not omniscient, as naively as the Irish 
bishop who concluded that Gulliver's Travels is full of 
impossible lies. Obviously memory alone cannot make 
a great scholar. We moderns who tend to disparage the 
memory may not agree with the ancients, who thought 
of Mnemosyne as the mother of the muses. Perhaps we 
sometimes forget that while other gifts, like imagination 
and synthetic power, may seem more important ingredi- 
ents of scholarship, memory supplies material for judg- 
ment, imagination, and power of synthesis. 


For students, sometimes for colleagues, there might 
be no sign of recognition when Kittredge met them on 
the street, for usually, being a man of immense powers 
of concentration, he was absorbed in his own thoughts. 
There was some consequent resentment, especially by 
students from sections of the country where New Eng- 
land aloofness is not understood and may even seem 
oppressive. A novel written by a former Harvard gradu- 
ate student contains a portrait of an academic ogre 
named Wadsworth, a stilted figure who rebukes a stu- 
dent for approaching him in the Library as if it were a 
clubhouse a caricature of a man pursuing "the spoor 



of an Ablaut." 39 Any resemblance between Kittredge 
and Wadsworth is superficial if not coincidental. Be- 
sides, who would have dared to approach Kittredge in 
the Library? 

The wisdom of a teacher's laying aside his dignity 
in dealing with students may be debatable. Quite apart 
from this question, Kittredge did not find it easy to 
unbend. Fundamentally a shy man, he was friendly and 
accessible to those who were not untactful or inconsid- 
erate. Many men were impressed by his kindness. Nu- 
merous scholars whose manuscripts profited from his 
critical reading have testified regarding his generosity 
with his time. Those students whose theses he directed, 
who invariably found him a painstaking and discerning 
critic,* have also mentioned the amount of time he was 
willing to give to them. His generosity was constantly 
shown in other ways for instance, in his contributions 
to the Boy Scouts of Barnstable, whose larger purposes 
he remembered with larger gifts to the Boy Scout cause 
while not forgetting that small boys enjoyed a barrel of 
apples in the winter. 

Kittredge's simplicity and naturalness impressed 
friends who knew him long. These qualities may be 
obscured by applying to him the adjective histrionic, as 
some have done. To be sure, he was quick to see dra- 
matic possibilities. An example long remembered oc- 
curred in 1914 at the house of Professor K. G. T. Web- 
ster on Gerry's Landing, after one of the annual dinners 
given for several years by Professor Webster for col- 
leagues and students soon to be examined for their de- 

* One detail is recalled by several persons: he made them aware that 
the semicolon is often abused, being used to connect sentence-elements 
not clearly related. 



grees in the Modern Language Division, of which Kitt- 
redge was chairman. Near midnight, when W. H. Scho- 
field was about to depart, Kittredge, sitting in reverse 
position on a wooden chair with his arms folded over 
the back, suddenly said, "Sit down, Schofield!" It was 
immediately clear that a scheme for a burlesque oral 
examination had occurred to him, for, after Schofield 
had seated himself, Kittredge asked with professional 
seriousness, "Which of you gentlemen will begin the 
questioning of the candidate?" Several at once joined 
the game, asking questions which Schofield soberly tried 
to answer. How long the mock examination lasted no- 
body knew, for as an observer said, "we had lost all 
sense of time." 40 At last E. S. Sheldon, the distinguished 
linguist not always suspected by his students of having a 
sense of humor, with assumed pompousness brought the 
proceedings to an end: "Mr. Chairman, in view of the 
fact that the candidate has indicated to us that in the 
event of his graduation he intends to engage in the oc- 
cupation of fire insurance, I move you, Sir, that we 
grant him his degree." 

Those who saw this incident, most of them soon to 
face oral examinations, may seem to have magnified its 
drama. Kittredge could have thought of making them 
less anxious about impending examinations. At any 
rate he usually proved to be considerate during the 
examination itself. He put many candidates at their 
ease by offering them a cigar. (When a woman candidate 
not invited to smoke lighted a cigaret, Kittredge glared, 
for his generation did not think of tobacco as suitable 
for women.) During a Ph.D. examination, a future sec- 
retary and later president of the Modern Language As- 



sociation of America, urged by Kittredge to speak loud- 
er, temporarily lost his power of speaking audibly. But 
Kittredge was known to help out many a nervous or 
harassed candidate during the ordeal. In the interest of 
maintaining standards, to be sure, students certain to 
fall below those standards were quietly discouraged 
from continuing their studies. A letter about a possible 
second examination for a student who had failed may 
be quoted for its point of view: "Part of my reluctance 
to see [name omitted] once more on the rack comes 
from pity for him, part of it from pity for myself and 
my colleagues, and part of it from my fear that in the 
upshot we might let a weak man through. We have a 
duty to the standard but we are human after all." 41 

On occasion Kittredge could be a source of comfort 
and counsel. Several are known to have turned to him 
in time of uncertainty in regard to personal problems. 
A teacher whose dean had called him a liar wrote for 
advice from a distant university. A scholar was dis- 
turbed by somebody's grabbing his subject. A nervous 
undergraduate afraid of losing his mind was helped by 
Kittredge's saying calmly, "Oh, you don't need to fear 
that at all, because you have lost it already. Anybody 
who thinks as you do is already crazy." 42 The statement 
was purposely blunt in order to supply a salutary shock. 
How natural it seemed to turn to Kittredge for guid- 
ance is illustrated by a former student's dreaming that 
he obtained from Kittredge the answer to a puzzling 
grammatical question. 43 In view of Kittredge's well- 
known dislike of using a telephone, a grateful letter 
recalling his telephone conversation may be surprising 
a conversation in which the student was advised to 



" 'Go ahead and use your powers with full confidence, 
and God be with you/ " advice which he thought of as 
"saving and shaping the biggest year of my life." Such 
acts of kindness, many of them of the nameless and 
unremembered sort that, according to a poet, constitute 
no small part of a good life, were certainly frequent. 


The Young Scholar 

KITTREDGE'S RESEARCH and writing were closely linked 
with, and were to enrich, his teaching. They concerned 
chiefly the ballads, the romances, Chaucer, Shakespeare, 
folklore, and some Americans of the colonial period. 
One can hardly attribute such range to a "specialist"; 
yet in all these fields Kittredge made important con- 

A knowledge of the ancient classics can be of great 
importance to an English scholar, and Kittredge did 
not, in going into the teaching of English, turn his back 
on his classical training; indeed he became probably the 
only American scholar to win some recognition in the 
field of Latin studies in combination with much greater 
recognition in English. He assisted J. B. Greenough in 
revising Allen and Greenough's Latin Grammar (1888; 
against revised in 1903) and also in revising texts or 
editing revised texts of Vergil, Ovid, and Cicero. 1 Not 
many Latin scholars have their names associated with 
more than a dozen volumes, some of them widely used 
textbooks. A friendship with Edwin Ginn of Ginn and 
Company, the publisher of the Latin texts, led to edi- 
torial projects in the field of English. 

Kittredge's first learned article, which like some 
others was written while he was still teaching at Phillips 
Exeter, reflected both his classical interests and his in- 
terest in folklore "Arm-Pitting among the Greeks" 
(American Journal of Philology, 1885). This article ex- 
amines the question of Greek murderers' mutilation of 



their victims' bodiescutting off limbs and fastening 
them under armpits, as in a play by Aeschylus so that 
the avenging spirit, presumably mutilated like the body, 
could not pursue the murderer. The weighing of com- 
parative evidence, such as that relating to vampirism, 
indicates that the author had studied to good purpose 

E. B. Tylor's Primitive Culture, a seminal work in 
bringing greater rationality to the study of myth. 


While he was still at Phillips Exeter, Kittredge had 
undertaken the general editorship of the Athenaeum 
Press series, intended to make informative editions of 
popular English masterpieces available to students and 
scholars. He shared the supervision of this series with 
C. T. Winchester of Wesleyan University, who con- 
fessed that his collaborator's labors exceeded his own. 
While the editors were planning the volumes, they un- 
doubtedly smiled over one proposal, from Professor 
A. S. Cook, who wanted to edit for use in schools a 
notoriously obscure poem, Browning's Sordello. 2 Be- 
tween 1890 and 1906 twenty-nine volumes appeared, 
edited by such well-known scholars as O. F. Emerson, 

F. B. Gummere, Felix E. Schelling, and John M. Manly. 
Kittredge's signed contribution to one volume is of 
special interest. When he pointed out to William Lyon 
Phelps, who was editing the poems of Thomas Gray, 
the extent of Edmund Gosse's inaccuracies regarding 
Gray's knowledge of Old Norse, Phelps asked him to 
discuss the subject in an appendix, 3 which shows that 
Gosse ignored the likelihood that Gray wrote 'The 
Descent of Odin" and "The Fatal Sisters" with no more 
knowledge of Old Norse originals than he could have 
obtained from Latin translations. 



Kittredge collaborated with E. S. Sheldon in editing 
eleven volumes of the Hazard Studies and Notes in 
Philology and Literature which appeared between 1892 
and 1907. The editorial supervision of the Albion Series 
of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English Poetry, published 
by Ginn, Kittredge shared with J. W. Bright of the 
Johns Hopkins University. From 1900 to 1910 appeared 
volumes in this series that were edited by A. S. Cook, 
George Philip Krapp, W. E. Mead, Killis Campbell, 
and Frederick Tupper, Jr. 


From 1891 to 1911, when he adopted a rule against 
reviewing books, Kittredge published some forty re- 
views. The most notable of these were contributed to 
the Nation, then, under W. P. Garrison as literary 
editor, a leading organ of literary discussion. Naturally, 
the books chosen reflect the reviewer's interests and 
special competence, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and 
language, though not confined to these subjects. Among 
the books Kittredge reviewed were Lounsbury's Studies 
in Chaucer (in both the Nation and the Atlantic Month- 
ly during 1892), Jusserand's edition of Piers Plowman, 
Skeat's edition of Chaucer, Courthope's History of 
English Poetry, Oliver Elton's translation of Saxo 
Grammaticus' Danish History, the works of R. L. Stev- 
enson, Knight's edition of Wordsworth, and two edi- 
tions of Byron. 

Though the reviewer explains and illustrates the 
limitations of books, he is not ungenerous in praising 
authors for their merits. Thus, while he condemns 
Henley's exaggeration, caprice, and fitfulness as an 
editor of Byron and the lack of such self-effacement as 
ought to characterize an editor's commentary, he praises 



some of Henley's notes, ''lively pictures of Regency life 
and manners": "They are the best reading in the world: 
full of variety and spirit, incomparably vivid, and, in 
places, almost distractingly clever/' In spite of the 
editors' shortcomings, especially failure to indicate the 
sources of their text, he could praise the Murray Byron 
R. E. Prothero's part more than E. H. Coleridge's, the 
latter being careless in his proofreading. Kittredge's re- 
view of Stevenson illustrates his distaste for the self- 
conscious and the artificial, the "made style"; Steven- 
son's forte, he thought, was romance, as in Kidnapped 
and David Balfour. 

Kittredge warmly praises Skeat's Chaucer, "a monu- 
ment of learning and sagacity," noting minor mis- 
interpretations and a tendency toward discursiveness. 
Lounsbury's Studies in Chaucer is commended for con- 
taining what was then "not only the most scholarly life 
of Chaucer yet written, but by all odds the most read- 
able," and, with some reservations, for its chapter on 
Chaucer's learning in spite of Lounsbury's occasional 
misinterpretations of Chaucer's meaning and his wrong- 
headedness about the authorship of all the surviving 
translation of The Romance of the Rose. In regard 
to Kaluza' s Chaucer und der Rosenroman, Kittredge 
tested speculation with what he knew about human 
motives: "He [Kaluza] even makes the suggestion that 
a part of the version was prepared by Chaucer 'for his 
private use.' What private use a poet who was perfectly 
acquainted with French should have for an English 
translation of a French poem which was one of his 
favorite pieces of reading is a question that Dr. Kaluza 
will find some difficulty in answering." 

On February 11, 1899, Barrett Wendell wrote to 



George Pierce Baker: "Kittredge's reviews, and Manly 's 
Specimens, meanwhile, to say nothing of Child's Bal- 
lads, have found respectful recognition not only for 
them but for their subject from scholars of the widest 
variety and range/' 4 


More noteworthy than these discerning reviews 
was Kittredge's other writing. Except for his name, the 
identity of Malory had been unknown for centuries 
that is, the exact Sir Thomas Malory who wrote the first 
great masterpiece of English prose, the Morte D' Arthur, 
a treasury for poets and for all who have learned from 
it the stories of King Arthur and his knights. Kittredge 
examined the claims of a large number of persons 
named Malory who lived in England during the fif- 
teenth century before he decided which one could have 
fulfilled certain essential conditions. His discovery of 
the right person, made public on March 15, 1894, at a 
meeting at Columbia University but first put into print 
in an article in Johnson's Universal Cyclopaedia (also 
1894), was a notable event. The essential facts were 
explained more fully in a later article 5 and finally in a 
pamphlet of which a few copies were printed in 1925. 
Identifying Malory as the knight who served with the 
Earl of Warwick, a noble regarded as the pattern of 
chivalry, and who died in 147 1, 6 paved the way for 
researches on Malory's "turbulent career" by Edward 
Hicks, who unearthed in the Public Record Office 
documents charging him with various acts of lawless- 
ness. Kittredge's Preface to Hicks's Sir Thomas Malory 
(1928), as well as the remarks attributed to Kittredge in 
the book, attempted to set the newly discovered charges 
against Malory in historical perspective. 



Other succinct articles by Kittredge in Johnson's 
Universal Cyclopaedia, to which Professor Child had 
contributed an article on ballads, dealt with "Beast 
Fables/' "Danish Literature," and "Edda." Charles 
Kendall Adams, the editor of the Cyclopaedia, who had 
accompanied the Kittredges on their journey from 
Liverpool to London in 1886, regretted Kittredge's 
decision not to write any more articles for it. 

Kittredge's role as an interpreter of Chaucer and 
Shakespeare, the most important of his scholarly labors, 
will be discussed in other chapters. His courses in the 
popular ballads and the metrical romances helped to 
intensify his interest in folklore and the folkloristic 
approach to medieval literature. His early article on 
Sir Orfeo (1886), which shows how that charming nar- 
rative poem, based on a French version of a Breton lay, 
modifies the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in 
the direction of Celtic tradition, 7 was an exercise in the 
sort of investigation that was to be continued in his 
more ambitious analysis of Arthur and Gorlagon (1903) 
and in his Study of Gawain and the Green Knight 
(1916). That his reputation in this field grew quickly 
is shown by his being invited to deliver at the Johns 
Hopkins University a series of six lectures on the metri- 
cal romances, the first of which he gave on January 28, 


Kittredge's early years of teaching at Harvard were 
more pleasant because of his cordial friendship with 
Professor Child. His daughter afterwards remembered 
visiting the little professor at his home at 67 Kirkland 
Street and receiving gifts of roses or a book inscribed 
"from Francis to Frances." On September 11, 1896, 



during his fiftieth year of teaching, Child died. F. J. 
Furnivall, Child's English friend, wrote Kittredge in 
October: "I do hope that some one will write a memoir 
bringing out the sweet bright nature of Child as well as 
his learning and strenuous work." 

One of the persons Kittredge visited in England 
during the summer of 1896 was Dr. Furnivall (1825- 
1910) a vegetarian, a devotee of sculling (that Kitt- 
redge was one day to be elected an honorary vice- 
president of the Furnivall Sculling Club may throw 
light on FurnivalFs cordiality to the young American), 
an inspirer of scholars whose enterprise was more laud- 
able than his taste or judgment. Among Furnivall's 
scholarly projects had been a share in the beginnings of 
the New English Dictionary (later called the Oxford 
English Dictionary) and the responsibility for the six- 
text edition of Chaucer. He was founder, as well as 
director and editor for more than forty years, of the 
Early English Text Society (conducted, according to 
one of his successors, as a "benevolent autocracy'*), 
founder too of the Chaucer, the New Shakspere, the 
Browning, and other societies an ingenuous, energetic, 
and irascible scholar whose frankness was sometimes 
disturbing to the objects of it. The Chaucer Society 
had co-operated in the publishing of Kittredge '$ study 
of the language of Troilus and Criseyde. 8 

Though not as a result of Furnivall's suggestion, 
Kittredge did write a sketch of Child, which appeared 
in the Atlantic Monthly. 9 Except for the Introduction 
and the Bibliography, Child's work on the tenth part of 
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads had been 
largely completed. Kittredge declined to add an Intro- 
duction, for he thought that nobody else was qualified 



to write the discussion which Child had planned. But 
he saw the last part through the press (1898); with it 
was issued (with directions for binding it in Volume I) 
his biographical sketch of Child, prepared at the pub- 
lisher's request and somewhat more detailed than the 
sketch contributed to the Atlantic. 

This masterly tribute to one great scholar by an- 
other contains passages that help to explain its author's 
ideals. When Child went to Germany, Kittredge says, 
the study of Germanic philology had passed from " 'ro- 
mantic' dilettantism into the condition of a well-or- 
ganized and strenuous discipline, but the freshness and 
vivacity of the first half of the century had not vanished. 
. . . The ideals of erudition and of a large humanity 
were not even suspected of incompatibility. The imag- 
ination was still invoked as the guide and illuminator 
of learning. The bond between antiquity and medi- 
aevalism and between the Middle Ages and our own 
century was never lost from sight/' In Germany, "it was 
not so much by direct instruction that he profited as by 
the inspiration which he derived from the spirit and 
the ideals of foreign scholars, young and old. . . . 
Throughout his life he kept a picture of William and 
James Grimm on the mantel over his study fireplace. 
... he had been unwilling to subject himself to the 
restrictions on his plan of study which candidacy for 
the doctorate would have imposed." To Child's "as- 
tonishing erudition, which nothing seemed to escape," 
he "united an infectious enthusiasm and a power of 
lucid and fruitful exposition that made him one of the 
greatest teachers, and a warmth and openness of heart 
that won him the affection of all who knew him/' His 
diligence and thoroughness were "at the command of 



the highest qualities of his genius sagacity, acumen, 
and a kind of sympathetic and imaginative power." 
Moreover, "the exuberance of ... [his] large humanity 
pervades his edition of the English and Scottish bal- 
lads/'" Child was felicitous in his relations with younger 
scholars, who felt "an irradiation of the master's nature 
that dispelled all uncouth feelings. In the presence of 
his noble modesty the bustle of self-assertion and the 
petty spirit of pedantic wrangling could not assert it- 
self/' These, then, are some of the traits that Kittredge 
admired in Child. Many of them aptly characterize the 
writer. In the range and exactness of his learning he 
was to surpass his master, in his "large humanity" to 
rival him. Though his fundamental modesty was some- 
times concealed behind defenses that occasionally gave 
rise to unfounded charges of "arrogance," younger 
scholars usually realized that he possessed the true 
scholar's humility. 10 His service to Child's memory was 
to continue. He took an important part in promoting 
the establishment of the Child Memorial Library, now 
housed in Widener Library, a collection of books for 
the special use of those students in English who deserve 
and obtain permission to use it. The one-volume edi- 
tion of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1904), 
edited by Kittredge in collaboration with Helen Child 
Sargent, Professor Child's daughter, made the ballads 
accessible to multitudes who could not consult the 
larger Child edition. Kittredge also sponsored the pub- 
lication in 1908 of Child's modernization of a sombre 
and impressive Middle English poem, "The Debate of 
the Body and the Soul," contributing an Introduction 
which contained another tribute to his master. 




Still another tribute to Professor Child was the dedi- 
cation of Words and Their Ways in English Speech, a 
book written in collaboration with Kittredge's former 
teacher, J. B. Greenough. The book was published by 
Macmillan in 1901. It was at once received with favor. 
Dr. Furnivall and Professor Henry Bradley wrote of it 
enthusiastically from England. Professor Ewald Fliigel's 
prophecy that it would "breathe a new life into lan- 
guage study in the American schools" was fulfilled in 
many classrooms. The editor of Harper's was so much 
impressed that he asked Kittredge to contribute to the 
magazine two articles on word lore. 

As the preface indicates, the book was aimed at a 
wide audience an audience of the practical men who 
think of language only at those moments "when the 
amazing phenomenon of articulate speech comes home 
... as a kind of commonplace miracle." "To answer 
some of the questions that occur to one at such mo- 
ments/' the authors add, "is the main purpose of this 

The practical man may be unaware of the complexi- 
ties of the subject. He may suppose that sorry is etymo- 
logically related to sorrow, that one says "horse chest- 
nut" for the same reason that one says "horse-radish/* 
and that walnut has something to do with walls, sand- 
blind with sand, or buttery with butter. Besides dissi- 
pating these assumptions, Words and Their Ways il- 
lustrates such folk etymologies as have resulted in 
Welsh rarebit for the original Welsh rabbit (compare, 
suggests Kittredge, Cape Cod turkey for codfish). 

The authors are also concerned with more funda- 
mental fallacies, like "the Stoic fallacy," named for the 



ancient philosophers who believed that words are some- 
how related to the nature of what they denote and for 
whom etymology was "a science of true meanings." But 
regardless of its etymology, manufacture does not now 
mean "make by hand/' 

The book contains hundreds of fascinating histories 
of words with storied associations. Canter takes us back 
to the pace of pilgrims riding to Canterbury, Bruin to 
the brown-colored animal, the bear, in the Dutch 
branch of a medieval beast-epic, termagant to a sup- 
posed Saracen idol (or god). Treacle comes from a word 
that first meant "pertaining to a wild beast/' then in 
successive stages "remedy for a wild beast's bite," "reme- 
dy" in a less specific sense, and finally "syrup" or "mo- 
lasses." Bedlam, pointing back to a hospice devoted to 
the charitable care of the insane, originally part of a 
London establishment which was in turn a branch of 
one dedicated to St. Mary of Bethlehem (the Virgin), 
may be viewed in the light of fifteen hundred years of 
history of events like the founding of the Christian 
religion, the Saracen control of the Holy Land, the 
Crusades, medieval monastic theory, and the Reforma- 
tion in England under Henry VIII. 

The book was published long before semantics had 
become familiar as referring to the study of changes in 
meaning, semasiology being in more general use still 
longer before the metaphysical inquiries into "the 
meaning of meaning" now sometimes called "general 
semantics." Yet the book emphasized the semantic 
aspect of language. With a wealth of entertaining detail 
the authors show how words "go downhill" (knave once 
meant "boy"; a boor was a fanner, and a hussy a house- 



wife). In discussing euphemism, they are not content 
to refer merely to the influence of propriety in relation 
to death, physiology, or moral delinquency; they find 
the force at work in words like accident (literally, in the 
first instance, "happening"), which at first glance may 
not seem euphemistic at all. 

Language changes so rapidly that it is practical for 
schoolmasters to assume a conservative attitude towards 
it. Kittredge's attitude was more liberal than that of 
many of his contemporaries. For example, he defended 
"a hot cup of coffee" to a student who had been warned 
solemnly by other teachers that logic demands "a cup of 
hot coffee/' He once confessed to John L. Lowes that 
he was fond of "colloq." An incident that occurred at 
Dunster House after a concert by Lead Belly, the Negro 
folk singer sponsored by the Lomaxes, convinced one 
student of Kittredge's keen feeling for colloquial idiom. 
Standing in a crowd, the student felt something tickling 
his ear. After he turned to see that it was Kittredge's 
beard, Kittredge beamed at him and said of Lead Belly: 
"Demon on rhythm, isn't he?" 

Only a reading of Words and Their Ways can fully 
illustrate its humanizing of knowledge a knowledge 
based not simply on the study of linguistics but on 
penetrating observation and analysis of the philosophy 
of the subject, whose presentation is pitched at just the 
right level. It interested multitudes in the study of 
language and has been a storehouse for teachers. Even 
scholars with some linguistic training have found that 
they could read it with profit, though, to be sure, the 
expert philologist may now disagree with a few state- 




Like his revision of the English used in a translation 
of the Psalms for the Jewish Publication Society, finally 
issued in 1903, 11 the textbooks which at various times 
Kittredge helped collaborators to prepare were in- 
tended partly to supplement his income. These in- 
cluded The Mother Tongue (1900, 1901), with Sarah 
Louise Arnold, who, after serving as supervisor in the 
Boston schools, became Dean of Simmons College; 
Book III of The Mother Tongue, entitled Elements of 
English Composition, in which John Hays Gardiner, a 
Harvard colleague, also collaborated, 1902; Manual of 
Composition and Rhetoric, with the same authors, 1907; 
An Advanced English Grammar, 1913, and A Concise 
English Grammar, 1918, both with Kittredge's former 
student F. E. Farley, who after his studies at Harvard 
became a college teacher, also at Simmons College and 
later at Wesleyan University. The books enhanced Kitt- 
redge's reputation as an authority on practical linguistic 

Once when a student cited the dictionary on the 
pronunciation of a certain word, Kittredge replied, 
"That's wrong; I'll see that that is changed." 12 He was 
one of the few teachers then alive who could gracefully 
have made such a remark, because of his connection 
with dictionaries his revision of the history of the Eng- 
lish language for Webster's International Dictionary of 
1890 and his supervision of J. L. Lowes' treatment of 
synonyms for the New International (1909), as well as 
of Joshua Lake's Dictionary of Australasian Words and 
Phrases, included in an earlier edition of Webster's 

His keen interest in the dialects of English had led 



to his attending the meeting leading to the organization 
of the American Dialect Society in Sever Hall in 1889. 
Professor Child was the first president of this organiza- 
tion; Kittredge became a member of the editorial com- 
mittee (Dialect Notes was the organ of the new society), 
vice-president, and finally president in 1897. 

Probably Kittredge's literary rather than his lin- 
guistic interests, his desire for more light on the metri- 
cal romances, led him to enroll in the regular courses in 
Old and Middle Irish in 1896 and 1897, under Professor 
F. N. Robinson, his former student, who had studied 
Celtic in Germany and returned to Harvard to intro- 
duce the subject. Kittredge was also for years a faithful 
attendant at the Celtic Conferences which at first met 
in college rooms but after Robinson's marriage in 1901 
met at his house in Longfellow Park, to read and discuss 
Celtic texts. These texts varied from year to year- 
Welsh and Scottish Gaelic being succeeded, for in- 
stance, by popular ballads in the modern Celtic or by 
the Ossianic texts in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. 

A bit of fiction explains why Rittredge's beard and 
hair lost their original color before he was old. He had 
borrowed a Celtic grammar from Robinson in order to 
study it during the summer months. When he returned 
the book, his hair and beard had turned from chestnut 
brown to gray. This etiological myth, or pourquoi 
story, as a folklorist might call it, points to truth: Celtic 
is difficult, and Kittredge was a strenuous scholar, not 
deterred by arduous labors. When he was not engaged 
in research, he might be assembling the materials in 
those huge scrapbooks that contained his collections on 
witchcraft, on Shakespeare, on Chaucer, or ballads or 
other folklore, or on Cape Cod; or perhaps recording 



quotations not found in such collections as Harriett's, or 
noting hundreds of examples illustrating the use of 
shall and will, or indexing the proper names in the 
Roman de la Rose. 


This strenuous endeavor was often pursued into the 
early morning hours, for he seemed to thrive on much 
less than the normal amount of sleep. For a time an 
electric bell was installed in his study, so that Mrs. Kitt- 
redge could remind her husband that he should go to 
bed; he was known to fall asleep during his late hours 
of work, though he was usually up, too, quite early. 
Pressing a button was simpler than walking downstairs 
in her night dress and perhaps being facetiously greeted 
as Lady Macbeth. Kittredge did not like the bell, which 
was finally discarded. 

But, though he once admitted that he may have 
worked on a scholarly book while others were playing 
golf or bridge an admission intended to disarm critics 
prone to raise the test of the practical bearing of some 
scholarly questions the toil was not unrelieved. After 
an unusually strenuous day, he might take his family to 
the theater. He liked to see plays and did see some 
notable performances of Shakespeare though conceiv- 
ably any Shakespearian could enjoy Shakespeare more 
in the library than on the stage. Kittredge frankly liked 
vaudeville, even melodrama, which he sometimes saw 
in the company of his friend A. A. Howard. A rumor 
that he was sometimes in later years at the Old Howard, 
a theater then associated in the public mind with bur- 
lesque rather than its older vaudeville, seems traceable 
to a mistaken newspaper article about the end of the 



Old Howard. After the theater, Kittredge might have 
supper in his favorite corner at the Adams House, 
where his selection of food and drink contributed to 
his reputation as bon vivant. But, though some of his 
friends might minister to his epicurean tastes by send- 
ing him, for example, choice cheeses for Christmas, he 
also liked rather plain food. His experience in Ger- 
many, for instance, led him to appreciate the platter of 
sauerkraut, sausage, and boiled potatoes that Mrs. A. A. 
Howard, a native German, knew how to cook and some- 
times sent to the Kittredges. 

During the long winter months a favorite family 
game was battledore and shuttlecock, which once re- 
sulted in the knocking of a shuttlecock into the globe of 
a glass jet, where the feathers caught on fire. This game 
was usually less dangerous than fireworks on July 4th, 
which included cannon firecrackers, until one blew up 
a kettle and scattered the pieces. Sometimes Kittredge 
helped his children fly kites, and he often took them to 
the circus or the zoo. On Sundays before supper he re- 
cited to them a chapter from a long continued story, a 
romantic tale of adventure which he invented and to 
which the children listened eagerly. 

In summer, too, he could relax at Barnstable on the 
Cape a town named from the English Barnstaple be- 
cause, as his son Henry was to note in his Cape Cod; Its 
People and Their History, the resemblance of the shore 
points at low tide in the two towns was observed by 
early settlers. Here he delighted in another set of friends 
and other pursuits. Here he might read Dumas, Dick- 
ens, or Wilkie Collins for recreation instead of those 
mystery stories which, in Cambridge, he often found a 



release from serious intellectual labor. This country of 
sandy beaches and broad sweeps of horizon may not be 
spectacular; it possesses no alpine grandeur. Its hills are 
not high, and its pines are of the scrub variety. Yet it 
has a charm for the many who love it, not explicable 
merely in terms of its fresh morning air and brisk 
breezes, or its rich historic associations with pilgrims, 
Indians, beachcombers, or mooncussers. 

The spacious old house on Railroad Avenue, which 
had been for a while the home of his boyhood, for some 
later years he shared during summers with his sister and 
her husband, Brent Johnston, who was often his own 
congenial companion. From it he could see the blue of 
Barnstable Harbor. The house was close to the railroad 
not a busy one and one little heeded by the Kittredges. 
As a young wife, during her first visit to Barnstable, 
Mrs. Kittredge had been frightened by the screech of a 
locomotive. Her husband had calmly assured her that 
thereafter she would not notice the train. And so it 
proved. 13 

In Cape Cod one might also observe unusual char- 
acters or hear oddities of expression. In his Cape Cod 
Scrapbook Kittredge gave a place to Frank Perry's bull 
(ridden "horseback" and driven) and his house built of 
driftwood; to the veteran fisherman, Billy Hallett, a 
yarn-spinner who told of an eighty-foot whale that ate 
his duck decoys; to the weak-minded woman whose 
husband had drunk from a heavy jug in order to lighten 
it and who had then lain down in a stupor and been 
drowned by the incoming tide: "It served him right, " 
she said, "and I hope it will learn him better next 



Summer was also a time to travel to Canada, for 
instance, but, above all and most often, to England. 
In 1896, at a time when weariness led him to feel the 
need for a change, Kittredge went on a bicycle trip in 
England with his college roommate and good friend, 
Charles Snow. During that summer he wrote daily to 
Mrs. Kittredge, sometimes enclosing flowers from the 
English countryside. A rose given to him from the 
garden at Anne Hathaway's cottage he sent to his 
daughter in time for her birthday. 

In general, Kittredge's surviving letters, concerned 
largely with matters of business, are succinct. He saved 
time by including only essentials. A student asking for 
an appointment might be answered by notation of the 
day, hour, and place. A few surviving family letters, 
mostly written during his travels, will be quoted here 
for their more personal flavor. The two that follow 
were composed during the English journey of 1896: 

July 21, 1896 
My dear little daughter, 

I am writing just a line to tell you how glad I was to 
get your nice little letter on board the steamer, and to send 
you and Henry each a yellow flower which I picked in the 
park of Hawarden Castle, where lives Mr. Gladstone, a very 
great English statesman. Mamma will tell you what that 


Your loving 



[Royal Pier Hotel, 
Thursday, August 27 [1896] 
My dear children, 

This is to be a letter for both Frances and Henry, but 
Dora may hear it if her brother and sister think she is old 
enough to understand it. I shall address it on the envelope 
to Frances, because she is the oldest. 

What I want to tell you about particularly is the chil- 
dren's service on the beach at Worthing. Last Monday 
morning, about half past ten, I saw a lot of little and big 
children sitting on the ground at the shore. The beach was, 
at this point, composed of good-sized pebbles, which were 
perfectly dry. Two boys were busily engaged in putting 
up a kind of banner. The wind blew hard, and they found 
it impossible to stick the standards down on the beach. . . . 
Then there was a minister who led the singing, and there 
was a lady who played. What she played on I could not 
exactly make out, but it was something like an organ, and 
it was so arranged that it could be packed up in small com- 
pass when she got through playing on it. There were sev- 
eral more ladies and one or two other ministers, and then 
there was also a man who was not a minister, and he made 
a little address to the children about trusting in the Lord 
and doing good. He said it was not enough to trust in the 
Lord: you must do good, too. The children sat still and 
listened very quietly (as I suspect Dora is not doing now), 
and then they sang, and said a prayer, and so on. You see it 
was just like going to church in the open air right on the 
sea-shore, and I thought I should have to write my children 
about it. 

Your loving 



In 1905 he allowed his daughter Frances to go on a 
tour with her uncle, aunt, and cousin, sending flowers 
to her cabin in the Teutonic to bid her bon voyage. 
Picking wild berries and even pulling weeds from his 
own garden were pursuits often enjoyed by Kittredge 
at Barnstable. Some of the letters written to her during 
her journey, quoted below, illustrate his interest also 
in boating, gunning, mostly for shore birds, and fishing, 
chiefly in ponds. He was a good shot with a gun, his 
keen marksmanship having been demonstrated by suc- 
cessive bull's-eyes at the annual fair. For a time, too, he 
was interested in archery, in which he achieved some 

[Adams House, Washington Street, Boston] 

July 11 1905 
Dear little Frances, 

I suppose you have by this time acquired an elegant 
Eng. accent, no doubt somewhat mixed with the dialects of 
Scotland & the Northern Counties. (By the way, you may 
as well learn the Counties while you are about it. I am 
going to try to teach Mamma the towns on C. Cod this sum- 
mer, so that she need not think that Hyannis is independent 
of Barnstable.) 

I have been in Boston two nights, &, with my usual skill, 
selected absolutely the hottest days of the season. But I 
don't mind. I hope to get down to the Cape to-night, though 
I'm not expected till to-morrow. 

Our first week at Barnst. was busy enough. We found 
the big raft was so high on the marsh near the fish-house 
that we couldn't get her off without assistance. Finally Mr. 
Alfred induced the weir men to help him. It took 6 of them 
to lift one end fe then they had to use a lever. In order to 
get Alfred started, it was necessary to interrupt him at 



dinner. We kept on his trail, however, until he decided 
that it was easier to get busy than to procrastinate longer. 
Then Henry and Mr. Morgan towed the raft down the 
creek & out to its moorings & we had a good swim. I rode on 
the raft, not from indolence but because it was important 
to have some old salt on board to fend off & attend to the 
other exigencies of navigation. To clear my character still 
further (if further exoneration be needful), let me add that 
I had rowed the Sardine from the bath-houses up the creek 
against wind and tide &: that the towers had wind and tide 
in their favor when they returned. 

Thurs., I think it was, H. 8c I went to S. Neck in the dory, 
took lunch, & searched for arrowheads. A place near Braley's 
where we never had found anything to speak out [of] had 
blown out during the winter & was unmolested. There and 
elsewhere we got between 40 & 50 excellent specimens, not 
to speak of more dubious treasures. Henry found a large 
fragment of an uncommonly large pendant, his first prize 
of that nature. 

A certain man known as Wire Bill is our general facto- 
tum for chores & "sich." He was left behind by the circus 
a year ago 8c lives with old Widow Washburn in the little 
house just below Mr. G. Snow's. We got the Sardine carted 
down to the beach by J. Dixon & told Wire to paint her 
green. He kept putting it off in true C. Cod style, 8c finally 
we discovered what his plan was. H. & I went down to the 
shore Sun. noon after church, at low tide, to make sure that 
the raft was securely anchored & we found that Wire had 
utilized the early Sabbath hours to paint the boat sky-blue! 
Obviously he thought this was a job that he could do on 
Sun. unobserved, though he couldn't do ordinary labor 
about town on that dayl Why he selected blue I don't know. 
Perhaps he is color-blind; perhaps Seabury had no green 
paint. Anyway she looks well 8c leaks scarcely at all. 

Yesterday I suppose H. & Mr. Morgan went to Lawrence's 
Pond for Black Bass. I don't know what luck they had. 



Poor H. has lost his tin box of fishing tackle. It has been 
gently but firmly removed from the house by some kind 
friend. Another disappearance is that of the huge stone to 
wh. the big raft was moored. What has become of it we 
can't say. Perhaps it floated off during the winter! The 
little raft, by the way, broke loose last fall, it appears, & is 
now resting high & dry on the edge of the dyke way up near 
the Tufts' house. Mr. Alfred says he will launch it in the 
creek. I am curious to see where it will be when I return. 

We miss you very much, but console ourselves with the 
thought of the good times you must be having. We are all 
well & the Gape is beautiful. We're much pleased with the 
improvements to the house. . . . 

The Robinsons are to spend to-morrow night with us. 
Fri. Aunt L. expects to take Grandma & Grandpa down to B. 

Good-bye. I must go about my business. With much 
love to Aunt Cina, Uncle Will, & Evelyn, 8c kisses for my 
baby from 


Barnstable July 28 [1905] 
Dear little daughter, 

Your letters are a constant delight, and we all feel con- 
soled for missing you as much as we do (& that's a lot!) by 
considering what a gorgeous time you are having. 

To-day H. [Henry] 8c I went to the Neck gunning. . . . 
We had uncommonly good luck, got 1 frost bird, 2 ring- 
necks, 4 peeps, & 3 chicken plover. H. is radiant. When we 
reached David Crocker's landing we found Judge Lothrop 
w. a carriage, cooling the horse's feet by driving him into 
the harbor. To our intense satisfaction he offered us a lift 
& drove us way home I This was great good fortune, for we 
had been out from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. nearly & had 2 guns to 
lug. I have bought a gun!! Got it yesterday at Wm. Read 8c 
Go's for $55. I tried to get a Colt, like H's, but learned that 
the Colts had given up making double-barrelled shotguns 



some years ago. I christened my gun to-day 8c it shot very 
well after I got used to it. 

To-morrow Mr. Morgan, H. & I are going down to 
Pleasant Lake (in Harwich) to fish for bass. We have some 
helgramite for bait. They are the most ferocious looking 
things you ever saw. Perch don't seem to like them. At all 
events, a few days ago H., Mr. M., 8c I went up to Shallow 
[Pond] & tried them, but had no success. . . . 

Aunt Lettie came down to-day to stay a month. Uncle 
Brent arrived this evening about 7, in Mr. Moses Brown's 
automobile, with Mr. fe Mrs. Brown. They were to stay all 
night & Uncle B. invited them to supper, to Aunt Lettie's 
stupefaction, since she hadn't gone to housekeeping 8c was 
quietly taking supper with us when the automobile load 
arrived. We invited them out, however, and gave 'em what 
we had. Then Mr. B. gave Dora 8c H. a ride to Yarmouth 
8c Mamma went along. Dora was radiant, of course. 

Mr. Schofield is at Oxford, where he has rooms at 
Balliol College. When you go there be sure to send him 
a card. He can help you see Oxford to good advantage. 

Well, I'm afraid this isn't a very interesting letter, but it 
will suffice to show you that I haven't forgotten my baby. 

Love to Aunt Cina, Uncle Will 8c Evelyn, Sc a kiss for 
my little girl, from 


The helgramites figured largely in an incident re- 
corded in a letter written only a short time later. 

Barnstable, before 
breakfast, Aug. 1. [1905] 
Dear little girl, 

This is just a line to stick in with Dora's dithyrambs 
about the "otto." It is cold as the mischief this morning but 
all is well. We were charmed with your letter from Loch 
Lomond & "rejoice with them that do rejoice" as we read 



o your goings on. I am surprised that your Aunt Cina 
didn't descend to the very bottom of Rob Roy's Cave. Think 
how she will regret it in after-life! 

Henry & I went fishing with Mr. Morgan day before 
yesterday. We returned to the Pleasant Lake region, ex- 
perimenting with Sheep Pond in Brewster a beautiful sheet 
of water, about 1 1/% m. Ig. & very deep. We had helgramite 
for bait, but the Sheep Pond bass didn't appreciate 'em very 
well, seeming to prefer a few defunct shrimp wh. we got 
from a fellow-experimenter. Have you ever seen a hel- 


Only much fiercer & three or four times as big. N.B. This 
is not a picture of Mr. Fraser appreciating an American 

We drove back from Brewster & Mr. Morgan ingeniously 
left the helg. in the wagon. We were in despair: for they 
live forever & we didn't want to lose 'em. But Sun. P. M. 
they came up on the train. I was in my bedroom. Awful 
shrieks & laughter from Dora 8c the 3 domestics. G. L. K. to 
the rescue. At Dora's request Bridget had opened the mys- 
terious pail, & had dropped it in alarm, permitting the helgs. 
to escape. But Mary rescued them by the help of two sticks 
8c when I reached the scene they were safe. 

Good-by, love to all. Papa. 

Much of Kittredge's time at Barnstable he spent in 
a small one-room building not far from his house, his 
summer study, where he could concentrate without fear 
of interruption. Though his hours of abstraction, which 
could easily be mistaken for moodiness (and sometimes 
he doubtless was moody), were not confined to his study, 
he was usually ready for expeditions that brought com- 
plete relaxation. On a walking tour his cane was useful 
in looking for arrowheads. The letter which follows 



illustrates his constant pleasure in journeys, often ac- 
companied by a search for relics. These he sometimes 
bought-for instance, the Indian skeletons that at a 
later time were stored in his summer study. 

Barnst., Aug. 25th 

My dear little Girl, 

This is your birthday 8c I must just scribble you a line, 
though I'm quite sure your faithful & industrious mamma 
has exhausted all the subjects of interest, so that this will 
be, as Dora said of a missive she intended to write to you, 
"rather an ancient letter." Dora, by the way, is thought to 
have shown great discretion lately (day before yesterday) 
because she took some calomel of her own accord. 

Yesterday Mamma, & H. and I went down to Eastham, 
partly for the excursion, partly to look for relics. We got a 
good deal of both. On getting off at the Eastham station, 
we found that a hotel where we had thought of dining had 
been burned down for some years. We also found that there 
was no horse at the station; but "i/ of a mile" away lived 
Mr. Penniman who might let us one. So H. and I went to 
Mr. P.'s, leaving Mamma at the station, reading A Tale of 
2 Cities. Mr. Penniman was "in the marsh," horse & all, & 
his wife thought perhaps he'd let us his horse, & perhaps 
he'd drive us to Orleans (where I knew there was an excel- 
lent inn). The only thing she was certain of was that she 
could give us some dinner (good news!) & that Mr. Elkanah 
Hopkins lived about i/% mile further on, round the Salt 
Pond. Well, we had dinnerwhich was plain but good; 
and we hired Charley, the Penniman steed, 8c we reached 
Mr. Elkanah Hopkins's (we had heard of him as possessing 
some good relics) 8c we found him at home Be purchased 
what even Mamma regarded as an excellent bargain: it in- 
cluded a battle-axe of the real old sort! Later Mr. Penniman 



drove us to Orleans in a farm-wagon, & we spent the night 
there, reaching home this afternoon. This forenoon we 
drove down to the Beach at Orleans (Nauset Harbor), & 
thought of you, for there is the open Ocean, 
[picture marked "battle-axe"] 

Now I must go to bed. Your Amsterdam letter was un- 
commonly jolly, though all are nice, & you are evidently 
having a high old time. You do not say whether you are 
behaving (Evelyn 8c you) with dignity & propriety, or 
whether one of you is behaving with dignity and the other 
with propriety. 

Good-night, with love to all, 


In his letter o August 28, 1905, to his daughter 
Frances, Kittredge mentioned an important Barnstable 
event and his parents: "Great doings down here naow 
with the caounty fair, wh. begins to-day. . , . 

"Grandpa is sending various specimens of fruit to 
the Fairthe prize article being a big basket of crab- 
apples, wh. are uncommonly handsome this year. And 
Grandma has sent some of her best embroidery/* 

On May 16, 1906, "Grandpa," Edward Lyman Kitt- 
redge, died at his home, 237 Longwood Avenue, in 
Boston. His widow, Deborah, died two days later, 14 
without knowing of her husband's death. After funeral 
services for both, both were buried at Barnstable on 
May 20. The death of his parents at nearly the same 
time, though a heavy grief to him, Kittredge described 
to a former student as l 'beautiful for them." 15 

Though he had already planned to go abroad dur- 
ing the summer of 1906, his trip to England served as 
a lenitive for his grief. The two letters next quoted 
were written during this journey. The letterhead of the 



first makes it clear that it was composed at the Swan 
Hotel in Wells: 

June 26, 1906 
Dear Dora, 

I think your letter . . . was fine. We got it to-day and 
enjoyed it hugely. 

Now I am going to tell you two jokes on Mamma: 

(1) The other day, when we had come from Gloucester 
to Bath, & were lunching at a fine hotel (quite different from 
that at Gloucester, which was only mdifferent), I happened 
to say something about "When we were at Gloucester," & 
Mamma looked up indignantly & said, "Why, this is Glou- 
cester 1" & it wasn't, it was Bath. 

(2) To-day when I returned from a day's expedition, I 
was startled to receive a sealed envelope. It had been sent 
to the hotel office by the tailor to whom Mamma had con- 
fided a suit of my clothes to be pressed. She had examined 
them carefully, so as to leave nothing in the pocket, fc she 
still declares that she did leave nothing. Nevertheless this 
packet which the tailor sent round as the result of his ex- 
plorations contained the following articles: 

(a) a key 

(b) a watch-key 

(c) a box of matches 

(d) an envelope 

(e) a small purse containing 3 pounds in gold. 

Good-by with love to all 


The following letter was written July 26, 1906, 
during the Kittredges' visit to the Scottish Highlands: 

My dear children, 

Your mother has just written a letter to F. on Carbis 
Bay Hotel papers & has put it in a King Arthur's Castle 



(Tintagel) envelope. I think you may find this anachronistic 
mixture a trifle confusing, 8c therefore I am writing on the 
proper paper which will indicate to you we have just left 
Oban (about 2 hours ago) & are on the salt waves of Loch 
F[L]innhe, en route for Fort William & (to-morrow) Inver- 
ness. We have had a good time at Oban. The lona trip was 
a great success, & landing (& still more getting back on 
board) very thrilling. Really boarding the steamer looked 
8c felt very dangerous, though it wasn't a bit so. The High- 
land boatmen were very skilful. One fine handsome fellow, 
6 ft. at least, 8c lithe as a tiger, was standing in the bow, 
paying out & pulling in the painter as the huge boat rose 
and fell alongside of the steamer; and when a particularly 
big swell came and carried the boat up till it struck the 
landing stage of the steamer and knocked it up in the air, 
he fairly laughed with delight. Mind you, a man without 
sea-legs & web-feet couldn't have stood where he was for a 
second. It was great fun to watch the process after you were 
once on board yourself. Good-bye, with lots of love to all. 


The letter quoted below has a special interest in 
view of the many times Kittredge paid tribute to friends 
and colleagues. The letterhead is that of the Unicorn 
Hotel and Posting House at Ripon. 

Sun. Aug. 5/06 
My dear little Franie, 

This is a special note to you not intended to be sent 
round to Aunt Lettie and the other aunties & cousins unless 
you wish. 

I well understand your reluctance to write a sketch of 
your impressions about your friend Hilda. But, my dear, 
this is one of the things we can't avoid. I suppose nobody 
dislikes to do this precise thing more than your father, but 
he has had to do it probably a score of times in his life 8c 



he has never felt as if he could decline when asked. In your 
case, you must remember, dear, that you offered to do any- 
thing you could for Mrs. M., &, as it happens, this is the 
only thing she wants you to do. It wouldn't be very kind- 
would it? or sound very sincere if you should hear a dia- 
logue like this: 

"F.G.K. Isn't there something I can do? 
"Mrs. M. Only one thing a sketch 8cc. 
"F.G.K. I can't do that. Anything else!" 

Now, darling, it won't be so bad as you think. Mamma 
has some fine ideas for the sketch 8c she will help you and 
it needn't be long and I presume there is no hurry. You 
can doubtless write it at Barnstable after we are all together. 
But even if Mrs. M. is in haste so that you have to do it 
before we return, never mind! Just write ahead simply 8c 
open-heartedly 8c try to say what made you like Hilda & why 
she was interesting & how you came to know her, 8cc. 

Good-night, darling, with lots of love to all. 



During 1904, when Kittredge was president of both 
the Modern Language Association of America and the 
American Folk-Lore (later, Folklore) Society, he pub- 
lished two books: the Student's Cambridge Edition of 
English and Scottish Popular Ballads, prepared in col- 
laboration with Helen Child Sargent and already men- 
tioned; and The Old Farmer and His Almanack. 

Kittredge spent much time and labor in arranging 
for the Library the Child papers, including material 
assembled by several collectors. The Child manuscripts 
and correspondence relating to ballads, the Librarian 
noted in his report for 1915, "have been examined and 
arranged with infinite care" by Kittredge. He pub- 



lished articles on ballads and folksongs in the Journal 
of American Folk-Lore, and in some cases for instance, 
in relation to "Lovewell's Fight" assembled an impos- 
ing mass of information. He steadily added books and 
manuscripts to the ballad collection in the Harvard 
Library, also enriched through the contributions of his 
students. He made valuable editorial suggestions, often 
supplying extended annotations (e.g., for Songs and 
Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks, edited by R. P. 
Gray, 1924), for the several volumes of ballads pub- 
lished by the Harvard University Press. In short, the 
stimulus of his ballad scholarship was to be far-ranging 
if not immeasurable, at least not to be measured by 
the edition of 1904. 

The Introduction to the Student's Cambridge Edi- 
tion of the ballads is possibly still as authoritative as 
any other brief treatment of the subject. According to 
the Preface, "It attempts to sum up, as simply and as 
judicially as may be, the present state [italics added] of 
a very complicated discussion." In 1904, it seemed true 
that "ballad-making, so far as the English-speaking na- 
tions are concerned, is a lost art; and the same may be 
said of ballad-singing." During the years that followed; 
evidence that these statements are untrue came to light, 
as Kittredge used to point out to his classes. One has 
only to examine such volumes as those edited by John 
A. and Alan Lomax, W. Roy MacKenzie, Reed Smith, 
John Harrington Cox, and Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr., for 
example, to realize that Kittredge's encouragement of 
collectors helped to bring to light much of this evi- 
dence. A collection of ballads and songs which he an- 
notated for the Journal of American Folk-Lore has 
been a pattern for subsequent editing. 16 



Kittredge's Introduction was written at a time when 
the theories of Francis B. Gummere Gummere's trans- 
lation of Beowulf (1909) was dedicated to Kittredge as 
"keenest of critics, kindest of friends" regarding com- 
munal composition of the ballad had become familiar. 
Kittredge's review in the Nation (1894) of Gummere's 
Old English Ballads had been sympathetic but had not 
expressed full approval of the views set forth: 

On the matter in hand, there are two main opinions 
before the world. The view fostered by the Romantic 
school, and fallen into discredit with the gradual discredit- 
ing of the theories and ideals of Romanticism, is "that the 
community as a whole and a unit, makes poetry of the peo- 
ple." The other view, seemingly more rational and cer- 
tainly more in favor just now, is that "poetry of the people 
is made as any other poetry is made, except that it is subject 
to purely oral transmission, and therefore to infinite varia- 
tion and the chances of popular control." ... It may be 
admitted that every extant popular ballad owes its actual 
form to some individual singer, who stands between us 
and the assumed primitive singing community; but this 
admission, contends Professor Gummere, does not solve the 
problem of ultimate origins. . . . 

In Kittredge's Introduction the communal theory is 
accepted only in a modified form. It is assumed that 
certain literary devices, such as "incremental repeti- 
tion" (a kind of repetition with a difference, or "incre- 
ment," that advances the narrative) and the refrain, 
pointed back, not to a composing community but to a 
small group of people in which a foresinger or others 
might compose separate stanzas, all the group joining 
in the refrain. But "it is unlikely that even the simplest 
of our extant ballads were made in this fashion," Kitt- 
redge added. 



The communal theory, which had been widely ac- 
cepted by ballad scholars, was sharply attacked by Miss 
Louise Pound in her Poetic Origins and the Ballad 
(1921;. Both Miss Pound's earlier articles and this po- 
lemic volume so overstressed what she considered points 
of divergence from the communal theory that it is well 
to note these points of agreement with Kittredge's in- 
terpretation of that theory: (1) Both she and Kittredge 
believed it likely that none of the extant Child ballads 
were communally composed; both agree that the ballads 
are * 'popular" in that they are transmitted orally. (2) 
Both agree that communal composition is an observed 
fact in many instances but that its products are "in- 
finitely crude" (this is Kittredge's phrase, though Miss 
Pound so laboriously underscores the point that an 
unwary reader might suppose that she was establishing 
something new). Miss Pound cites the Indians particu- 
larly as examples of a "primitive" people among whom 
group composition seems rare, at the same time mini- 
mizing anthropological studies of other peoples. 

Most of Miss Pound's arguments were double- 
edged: if incremental repetition and the refrain are to 
be found in the folksong as well as in the ballad, an 
obvious answer is that the folksong does not differ 
essentially from the ballad but merely in the absence 
of the narrative element; if no group has composed 
anything similar to the Child ballad, hardly any author 
has done so. Scott appears to have composed some lines 
of "Kinmont Willie." Andrew Lang, who found Kitt- 
redge's Introduction challenging and composed two 
poems more like the popular ballad than other such 
attempts, was himself, like Scott, a close student of the 
ballads and a poet of unusual versatility. If the ballads 



often deal with the upper class, with aristocracy or 
royalty (many do not, and some show an attitude to- 
wards the governing class like that of the Robin Hood 
ballads), when have the humble not been interested in 
their social superiors? Why does a character in Piers 
Plowman, a poem far from aristocratic in its outlook, 
know rhymes of Robin Hood? The humble have not 
failed to invent legends about Jackson or Lincoln, who 
happened to be Presidents. Contrary to Miss Pound's 
views, "The Old Chisholm Trail" and "The Boll 
Weevil Song/' admitted to be of multiple authorship, 
compare favorably with at least the poorer Child bal- 
lads, though not with "Edward" or "Sir Patrick Spens," 
which no one believes to be communally composed. 

Though the ballad is far shorter than the epic lay 
and depends more upon memory and less upon im- 
provisation, recent conclusions about Homer's epic for- 
mulas and about the nature of traditional poetry in 
eastern Europe have tended to focus attention again 
upon the special characteristics of oral literature, in- 
cluding the ballad. But the question of origins remains 
speculative if not insoluble, for no theory yet pro- 
pounded may seem to fit all the facts. Certainly few 
scholars today accept all the theories of Gummere. Kitt- 
redge did not, but he did not further modify his own 
position as stated in 1904. 17 


The miscellaneous nature of The Old Farmer and 
His Almanack, also published in 1904, is apparent in 
the subtitle, which has an antique air: Being Some Ob- 
servations on Life and Manners in New England a 
Hundred Years Ago Suggested by Reading the Earlier 



Numbers of Mr. Robert B. Thomas's FARMER'S AL- 
MANACK, together with Extracts Curious, Instructive, 
and Entertaining, as well as a Variety of Miscellaneous 
Matter. Though in his preface the author disavows any 
intention of following a logical plan, he begins with a 
sketch of Thomas, the "Old Farmer" of the title, who 
published the first number of the Almanack in 1793 
and who lived till 1846 to edit the annual publication 
which others have continued. Kittredge points out that, 
like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas was a man of homely 
philosophy and common sense, as is illustrated by his 
refusal to carry in his almanac either astrology or "the 
man of signs," and by his warnings against quackery 
and praise of thrift. 

The book supplies many sidelights on a bygone era. 
Here one learns how maple sugar became the accept- 
able form of sweetening in New England; how our 
forefathers coped with the perils of fire or drowning; 
or how they amused themselves in the days of the stage- 
coach, the inn, and the tavern, when the "flying sta- 
tioner" or peddler included chapbooks or ballads 
among his wares. Several brief chapters illustrate the 
author's wide-ranging interest in curious lore. "The 
Toad and the Spider" begins with animal tales that 
involve the consumption of plants as antidotes against 
poison; it glances at the lure of the toad a discussion 
leading, since toads are sometimes witches' familiars, to 
a brief statement about witchcraft, in which the author 
had been interested for several years and which he was 
later to discuss more fully. "Munchausen" illustrates 
some favorite American types of tall tales, from the 
story of stingy Uncle Zeke, who, after presumably div- 
ing to rescue the narrator's powder-horn, is found 



sitting on the bottom of the river and "pouring the 
powder out of my horn into hizen," to General Wash- 
ington's story that some New York mosquitoes "used to 
bite through the thickest boot." The second sentence 
of another chapter begins, "Now nothing is more in- 
teresting than Murder" a sentiment which the author 
later expressed orally in relation to the Hall-Mills and 
other murder cases. The chapter ends with a brief ex- 
cursus on the superstitious notion that those who have 
been murdered bleed afresh in the presence of their 
slayers. "Indian Talk" explores the tradition behind 
stories like that of the warrant issued by an Indian 
justice of the peace: "You, you big constable, quick you 
catchum Jeremiah Offscow, strong you holdum, safe 
you bringum afore me." 

Since the publication of this book, hundreds of 
other volumes have been devoted to Americana. 
Though not among the most important of Kittredge's 
books, The Old Farmer and His Almanack retains a 
pleasant flavor if not the flavor of long-mellowed wine, 
at least that of well-seasoned New England cider. 


Laurels of a Conservative Professor 

As AN UNDERGRADUATE Kittredge had acquired a taste 
for clubs and societies, and the taste proved lasting. He 
was a charter member of the History of Religions Club, 
organized in November of 1891. It contained about 
twelve members among them, several of Kittredge's 
friends, such as F. N. Robinson; Crawford H. Toy, who 
as an officer in the Confederate Army at the time of 
Lee's surrender had favored taking to the mountains 
and carrying on guerrilla warfare but who was now 
known for his gentleness and geniality; and George 
Foot Moore, a man as remarkable for suavity and hu- 
mor as for varied erudition. The club met fortnightly 
at the house of a member. One of the group humorous- 
ly confessed that after the paper of the evening there 
was usually a bountiful supper and that certain mem- 
bers, not unmindful of the merits of incense and holy 
water, did not neglect cigars and whisky. Of his clubs 
Kittredge probably enjoyed this one more than the 
others, except the Club of Odd Volumes, which he 
joined in 1910. 

As Kittredge grew older, the number of societies to 
which he belonged increased, though, to be sure, he 
was not an indiscriminate joiner (in 1916, for instance, 
in spite of President Lowell's urging to the contrary, he 
declined membership in the National Institute of Arts 
and Letters). In 1893 he had become a member of the 
Colonial Society of Massachusetts, along with several 
others in the class of 1882, including his friend Albert 



Matthews. In 1898 he was elected a Fellow of the 
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which in 1910 
he was to address on the millennium. Both he and 
Matthews had joined the American Antiquarian So- 
ciety in 1901, and at Matthews' suggestion later enrolled 
in the Prince Society to support its annual publications. 
In 1908 he joined the Massachusetts Historical Society. 

Because of his interest in the American colonial 
period, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts occupied 
a special place in Kittredge's affections. He served as its 
president from 1900 to 1907, when he declined re-elec- 
tion. In expressing appreciation for the services of a 
later president, he called the office "an honorable posi- 
tion, which any scholar may be proud to hold, but 
which demands much sacrifice of ill-afforded time, and 
involves many complicated and delicate responsibilities 
unsuspected by the casual observer"; extant correspon- 
dence, as well as a minute by a fellow-member on the 
services of "the busiest man in Cambridge/* indicates 
that he had accepted it with some reluctance. 

As noted in the preceding chapter, in 1904 Kitt- 
redge also served as president of two national organiza- 
tionsthe Modern Language Association of America 
and the American Folk-Lore Society, the Cambridge 
branch of which he had attended for several years. Pro- 
fessor Child, too, had been an early president of the 
Society, which had been founded at Cambridge in 1888. 
Kittredge also served as first vice-president (1911-18) 
and from 1909 to 1940 as either assistant or associate 
editor of the Journal of American Folk-Lore, a position 
in which he did an enormous amount of advising and 
editorial work. 

Early in the century Kittredge had been one of the 



few American scholars who were recognized abroad. 1 
On May 14, 1910, he was made an Honorary Fellow of 
the Royal Society of Literature. On June 28 of the 
same year he was elected to a Corresponding Fellowship 
in the British Academy an honor for which he was 
nominated by F. J. Furnivall and one which he shared 
with few Americans. 


Recognition in the Harvard Yard had come early 
but not through the sacrifice of any convictions. He had 
been a young instructor only a short time before attend- 
ing a faculty meeting at which President Eliot enthusi- 
astically urged a plan. While he spoke, Kittredge found 
he could not repress his inner dissent and, at the end of 
Eliot's speech, presented opposing arguments. He after- 
wards assumed that, being a mere instructor, he had 
been guilty of effrontery and had "cooked his goose." 
Subsequently Eliot met Child and asked him about the 
identity of the brash young man. Upon being informed, 
Eliot gruffly observed that more people unafraid of ex- 
pressing their convictions were needed. 2 On another oc- 
casion Eliot told Child that, though Harvard had had to 
pay more than the usual salary for Kittredge, it had got 
a bargain. In 1890 he asked William Lyon Phelps, who 
had entered the Graduate School, whether he had met 
Kittredge, "for we regard him as one of the most bril- 
liant scholars in America." 3 

But when Eliot later referred to "the ignorant con- 
servatism" of the younger members of the faculty, he 
had in mind opposition to his own causes, such as estab- 
lishing three-year courses for the A. B. degree or abol- 
ishing Greek as a requirement. Some of the debates, as 



recalled later, were "vivacious, to say the least/' 4 Kitt- 
redge could be formidable in such debates and, if he 
wished, could make an opponent uncomfortable. The 
voice of a member of the Department of Chemistry, 
who did not sympathize with the humanists' position, 
sometimes in moments of excitement broke into fal- 
setto. After one of those moments, Kittredge asked, 
"Would Professor Henderson mind repeating that? I'm 
sorry that I didn't catch it, and I'm sure it must 
have been something particularly trenchant" the word 
"trenchant" being wickedly chosen to fit the situation. 5 

Though Eliot encouraged the utmost freedom of 
debate and though because of his scientific training he 
could appreciate language study as a science, a certain 
limitation in his attitude towards literary scholarship is 
apparent in a passage which he wrote to Kittredge after 
the latter had sent him an offprint of an article on 
"Chaucer and Froissart" (1899): "I have read with in- 
terest your Chaucer-Froissart paper. The reasoning 
seems to conduct surely to your conclusion; but I con- 
fess to a feeling that it is rather wasteful to apply so 
much knowledge and acumen to so unimportant a ques- 
tion [a question which involved the degree and nature 
of Chaucer's originality, ultimately his artistic use of 
sources]. Am I wholly wrong in this feeling?" 

That Kittredge answered this letter is clear from 
Eliot's reply on September 11, 1899, from Maine: 

"I must admit that your subject may be much more 
important in reality than it appears to the reader who 
is not a specialist. 

"Clearly, the only question of waste involved must 
be the question o wasting your time and strength. The 
paper seemed to me a bit of very careful, accurate work, 



requiring many allusions and comparisons. I can hardly 
conceive that such a job should be, like swimming, re- 
freshing and reviving. It resembles too closely in nature 
your regular work." These sentences recall Eliot's per- 
sonal concern for the health o his faculty, in which he 
is known to have taken a fatherly interest. 

Eliot also sought the advice of his faculty. By early 
September of 1899 Arthur R. Marsh, who, after a brief 
period at the University of Kansas, had returned to 
Harvard to teach comparative literature, had decided 
that he could no longer afford to remain a scholar. His 
letter to Kittredge announcing his decision concludes: 
"May I add one request? It is that you will not let me 
drift away from you. I suppose you can never realize 
what your friendship has been to me. But one of the 
worst of my dreads at this moment is that our ways may 
in any sense be parted." It was to Kittredge that Eliot 
wrote about a possible successor to Marsh, noting that 
the latter' s change of occupation was "unique in my 

One of Kittredge's best friends, Francis B. Gum- 
mere, seemed to Kittredge the wisest choice. Gummere, 
a student of the ballads under Child, had obtained a 
second A. B. degree at Harvard (1875), after graduating 
from Haverford College, and his doctor's degree in Ger- 
many, before briefly serving as instructor at Harvard 
during 1881-82, and had eventually joined the faculty 
of Haverford. Christopher Morley's tribute to him may 
be familiar: "Was there ever a mind more richly stored, 
more alert, eager and vivacious?" His letters show that, 
like Kittredge's, his learning was tempered with a sense 
of humor. 

Before offering the position to Gummere, Eliot tried 



in 1899 to persuade Kittredge to take it himself, as the 
person best qualified. Kittredge declined, partly because 
Child had preferred to be called Professor of English, 
though a leading master in the field of comparative 
literature; Kittredge may have reflected, too, that be- 
cause few students studying to be teachers would teach 
comparative literature exclusively, a change of title 
would not be advantageous. Though Eliot did not find 
his reasons "absolutely conclusive," he finally offered 
the post to Gummere. The latter, who looked askance 
at Marsh's "grinding at the mills of the Philistines," de- 
clined for reasons creditable to him. On January 3, 
1902, he wrote to Kittredge that he was tempted by the 
thought of "you, and the men, and the library, and the 
stir of things. But if you knew all the facts here, you 
would see that just now at least I must stand by this 
little college." Still later Kittredge recommended W. H. 
Schofield, then Assistant Professor of English, who re- 
ceived the appointment. 

Eliot's attempts early in 1903 and late in 1904 to per- 
suade Kittredge to deliver lectures on English literature 
in Berlin were also fruitless, like President Lowell's 
similar feeler early in 1913 regarding an exchange pro- 
fessorship to Germany for the year 1913-14. 

That differences of opinion between Kittredge and 
Eliot were accompanied by mutual esteem is clear, as 
the following self-explanatory letter indicates: 

Harvard University 
Cambridge, March 25, 1904 
Dear Mr. Kittredge: 

After the meeting at the Faculty Room on Sunday last, 
you said a few words to me which interested and affected me 
very much; but my reply was broken off by the advent of 



Professor Taussig from behind you with his hand out- 
stretched. You immediately passed through the doorway, 
and I lost the chance to reply. I had hoped to see you at the 
Faculty meeting on Tuesday, but you were not there. I 
want, therefore, to tell you in writing that I appreciated 
your words and their object, and recognized the sincerity and 
full conviction with which they were uttered. I want to 
say, too, that I feel just as you do namely, that the differ- 
ences of opinion between us and the encounters we have 
had in the Faculty have been good training for us both, and 
have helped us both to better reasoning, firmer self-control, 
and surer and more tolerant judgment. We have served 
each other in precious ways, although neither of us has had 
that object directly in view. 
I am, with great regard, 

Very truly yours, 
Charles W. Eliot. 

In 1907, twenty-five years after Kittredge's gradua- 
tion (six years earlier he had received an honorary 
LL.D. degree from the University of Chicago), Presi- 
dent Eliot conferred upon Kittredge the honorary Litt. 
D. degree with this citation: "Linguist, philologist, 
worthy interpreter of the masters of English literature, 
antiquarian on one side, on the other most modern of 
inductive philosophers, generous helper of all other 
scholars, leader who inspires his followers to arduous 
and fruitful labors." The applause of the graduating 
seniors was vigorous and prolonged. 

Though imperfect sympathies had their place in the 
relationship of Eliot and Kittredge, these two Olympi- 
ans respected each other greatly. Moreover, "after all, 
Eliot is a Harvard man," Kittredge once said to a friend 
in extenuation. It was indeed shortly after a difference 
of opinion, expressed in a faculty meeting, that Kitt- 



redge found a notice of his appointment to the Cabot 
Fellowship beginning September 1, 1908, awarded to 
an outstanding member of the faculty and for three 
years providing compensation beyond his usual salary. 
The circumstances were striking evidence of Eliot's dis- 
interestedness in separating merit from agreement with 
his point of view. 

Among those who wrote letters of congratulation 
were William Allan Neilson, E. K. Rand, and Charles 
R. Lanman, Professor of Sanskrit, who expressed his 
"unfeigned delight" in the manner of one who, if not 
becoming venerable, felt mature enough to address a 
man in his late forties as "dear boy": "Wellmy dear 
boy, God has been good to us both; and long may you 
stay, young in heart, vigorous in body, and strong in 
intellect, leading our honored life and happy service. 
... As ever, with sincere respect and affection, your 
friend and colleague, 

Chas. R. Lanman." 

An especially apt phrase in President Eliot's citation 
was "generous helper of all other scholars/' as proved 
by hundreds of dedications and prefatory notes. Kitt- 
redge's personal influence among scholars was now enor- 
mous. He did much, too, for scholarly publishing. His 
article on "Chaucer and Some of His Friends" was first 
in the first number of Modern Philology (1903), and he 
was a member of the editorial board. He took a friendly 
and encouraging interest in the Journal of Germanic 
Philology ("Germanic" was later expanded to "English 
and Germanic"), at first edited by Gustav E. Karsten of 
Indiana University. Still later, when Edwin Greenlaw 
wrote that Studies in Philology needed increased sup- 
port, Kittredge sent a letter that led Greenlaw's univer- 



sity administration to grant a larger subsidy to the maga- 

Some of the most eminent scholars and teachers of 
the country were now among Kittredge's former stu- 
dents: John M. Manly, F. N. Robinson, G. R. Noyes, 
W. M. Hart, Carleton Brown, Edwin A. Greenlaw, 
W. A. Neilson, J. S. P. Tatlock, Karl Young, Joseph 
Warren Beach, Samuel Moore, to mention a few of a 
host. John Livingston Lowes, who in his earlier career 
had taught mathematics and studied divinity, once ex- 
plained how an hour in Kittredge's Beowulf class "in 
the year of our Lord, 1903, determined for me the next 
thirty-eight years." 6 With a scholar's imagination Lowes 
the teacher knew how to stimulate curiosity and how to 
put a halo around a fact; as a scholar he made The Road 
to Xanadu, instead of a mere source study, an inquiry 
into the ways of the creative imagination. But though 
he was to illuminate the text of Coleridge and other 
Romantic poets, he was to devote himself long to the 
study of Chaucer, finally dedicating to "myn owene 
maister deere" the book which Kittredge welcomed as 
complementing his own work on that poet. 

Kittredge's public reputation had also been ex- 
tended by lecturing. His eight lectures on Shakespeare 
at the Lowell Institute beginning February 15, 1909, 
arranged for by President A. L. Lowell, Eliot's succes- 
sor, during the previous summer, had been so popular 
that Lowell, because of the large number of applica- 
tions, had asked Kittredge to repeat each of his lectures 
in the afternoons following their first delivery the previ- 
ous evening. In December of 1912 President Lowell in- 
formed Kittredge of John A. Lomax's letter asking 
whether Kittredge would not visit the University of 



Texas. Lowell urged him to go, since "The South is a 
place which we do certainly want to cultivate." Early in 
1913 Kittredge set out on a brief lecture tour, visiting 
New Orleans, the Carolinas, and San Antonio, Houston, 
and Austin, Texas. 

On April 3 and 4, 1913, he spoke in Austin twice, 
once on "The Study of Folk-Lore: Its Meaning and 
Value" at the third annual meeting of the Texas Folk- 
Lore Society, an organization which, according to 
Lomax, owed its existence to Kittredge's suggestion. 7 
As a student at Harvard Lomax had been encouraged 
by both Barrett Wendell and Kittredge to collect cow- 
boy and other American ballads. Lomax suggested to 
Kittredge, during his stay in Austin, that they visit a 
Negro church. The Negro minister greeted them at the 
door and seated them near the pulpit. The large con- 
gregation was impressed by Kittredge's striking appear- 
ance. After a few hymns, some women, singing as they 
marched and carried away by their fervor, stopped to 
shake his hand. Later the minister asked Lomax to 
speak. He declined, but Kittredge accepted a similar 
invitation and was introduced as "a very distinguished 
visitor . . . Professor George Lyman Kittredge of Yale 
University." Kittredge rose, raised his hand, and said, 
"Harvard, if you please!" He then walked to the pulpit 
and, according to Lomax, "gave one of the most in- 
spiring ten-minute sermons I have ever heard. My 
Negro friends yet speak of that occasion." 8 Lomax's ac- 
count does not, however, mention that any of the 
colored brethren described Kittredge as "the great 
white-bearded prophet from the North" or as "looking 
like Jesus" apparently legendary embellishments. 

This experience in a church in Austin was perhaps 



more memorable than being the guest of honor at a 
dinner o the Harvard Club of St. Louis on April 12. 
Still greater recognition came when a group of col- 
leagues and former students presented a sheaf of papers 
to celebrate the completion of Kittredge's twenty-five 
years of teaching at Harvard. In those days a Festschrift 
was the scholar's accolade. The dinner attended by a 
large group at Young's Hotel on June 9, 1913, was a 
surprise, for, with his wife's connivance, Kittredge had 
been led to believe that he was attending a dinner with 
his friends Gummere and Manly. One of the guests re- 
membered his exclaiming, when he discovered the as- 
sembled company, "All Hell shall smoke for this!" 9 
C. H. Grandgent was toastmaster, and F. N. Robinson 
made the speech of presentation. After Kittredge's ex- 
temporaneous response, there were speeches by Presi- 
dent Lowell, Admiral Francis T. Bowles, a friend and 
neighbor of the Kittredges at Barnstable, and J. M. 
Manly of the University of Chicago. 

Robinson was able to announce that Kittredge's for- 
mer students had raised a fund of $4,500 to be used in 
buying books for the Harvard Library, to be spent 
under Kittredge's supervision. The Library had long 
been of primary concern to him. As Senator John F. 
Kennedy once recalled, Kittredge is reported to have 
remarked that the University could still exist if all 
buildings except the Library were burned, though the 
future President added that, even if the Library should 
be destroyed, "the essence of Harvard would endure if 
teachers like Kittredge and his fellows survived." 10 Kitt- 
redge explained to a colleague that he habitually 
glanced at a bookplate to find out to whom he owed 
the pleasure of using the book. He served more than 



once on the Library Council, and on several occasions 
made gifts to the Library, whose staff was likely to con- 
sult him before buying anything in the field of folklore. 
The Library's remarkable collection in that field, be- 
gun by Child, owes much to Kittredge. The Kittredge 
Anniversary Fund, later augmented by people like Al- 
bert Matthews, made many acquisitions possible. When 
the Widener Library was finished, the question of 
whether students should be allowed to smoke there 
arose. "Professor Kittredge says not/' President Lowell 
stated, mentioning a well-known smoker to bolster his 
position. 11 

Besides the collections in ballads and other folklore 
and literature, the unusual number of mystery stories 
in the Harvard Library are there partly because Kitt- 
redge, a chronic reader of such stories, gave them to the 
Library after reading them, though it apparently owes 
even more mystery stories to the gift of an eminent 
archaeologist, George Andrew Reisner. 12 Finally, Kitt- 
redge would have been happy to have seen the Lament 
Library for undergraduates, which was named for the 
man whose gift made it possible, one of Kittredge 's most 
admiring students at Phillips Exeter and Harvard- 
Thomas W. Lamont. 


Though the presentation of the twenty-fifth anniver- 
sary papers was a high tribute to Kittredge, the volume 
became the occasion of a formidable attack on him. 
Some had come to regard him as the foremost exponent 
of what was sometimes called "Teutonic scholarship." 
Germany was, of course, the important center of gradu- 
ate studies before the founding of the Johns Hopkins 
University or the Harvard Graduate School, remaining 



so for some time afterward, and both Child and Kitt- 
redge had studied there. Philology was once an inclusive 
term, with no pejorative sense, so far from being spe- 
cialized to mean a specific approach to linguistics that 
once John M. Manly, when asked about its meaning, 
answered, "It's life/' 13 Grammars and dictionaries were 
being made and texts established if it is "pedantic" to 
be concerned over faithfulness to an author's text, it is 
pedantic to clear the foreign matter from an ancient 
vase or a Renaissance painting nor was this period at 
an end, for in many instances sound dictionaries and 
texts lay in the future. Even Chaucer's language, the 
key to his meaning and rhythm, had not been well 
understood before the labors of Child. All Hoti's busi- 
ness had not been settled, if one may allude to the poem 
which W. L. Phelps humorously called the battle hymn 
of Phi Beta Kappa, but many were disposed to have no 
part in settling it. 

Kittredge's position in an age when scholarship was 
much more under the influence of the philological ap- 
proach than now, was more moderate and sensible than 
has sometimes been supposed. He had been invited to 
speak in 1 904 at the International Congress of Arts and 
Sciences held in connection with the St. Louis Exposi- 
tion. His journey there may have been his furthest to- 
wards the West. The ambitious aim of the Congress 
was to discuss the fundamental relations of the sciences 
and their special problems. Kittredge spoke in a group 
devoted to the history of the language, an honor shared 
with Otto Jespersen of the University of Copenhagen. 
A friend of his student days in Germany, Eduard Sie- 
vers, who visited him in Cambridge, was among the 
speakers on the same general theme in another section 



of the Congress. In his speech Kittredge expressed mis- 
givings that to separate the study of language and the 
study of literature would imperil both studies. He sug- 
gested, moreover, that though plenty of attention had 
been given to the study of phonology, too little had 
been devoted to the history of words. 

Kittredge was never a "philologist" in the narrow 
sense, as the term came to be understood; the semantic 
aspects of language interested him most, and literature 
was always his primary interest. But the linguistic re- 
quirements for the Ph. D. degree at Harvard, though 
never so exacting or inclusive, for instance, as those at 
the Johns Hopkins University, were irksome to many. 
Of the courses required, Old and Middle English may 
have seemed indispensable to those who wished to know 
English literature well for instance, even poetic archa- 
isms or fairly recent experiments with verse forms. Old 
French, which came to be taught predominantly for 
English students as a literary course, had great value, 
though E. S. Sheldon, often regarded as a better lin- 
guist than teacher, stressed its linguistic aspects. Gothic, 
of which one semester was compulsory, could, it is true, 
be illuminating for the light it threw on Old English 
forms and grammatical categories and on the relation- 
ships and development of languages, indeed on the way 
language behaves, but it had little interest for the stu- 
dent of literature, however much it might help him to 
understand cognates, etymologies, special linguistic 
problems, or even the dictionary. In the Department of 
English, certain members, like Barrett Wendell and, 
later, Bliss Perry, favored changing the linguistic re- 
quirements. William Allan Neilson, Kittredge's former 
student and a good friend, whose influence in the Har- 



yard Department of English was strong during the 
years (roughly, 1901-04 and 1906-17) when he was a 
member of it, also favored some relaxation of the re- 

The Germanic tradition in scholarship was a special 
object of aversion to Irving Babbitt, Professor of 
French, who had come to Harvard as a teacher in 1894. 
As a fellow student in Sanskrit at Harvard he had met 
one of his chief friends, Paul Elmer More. A man of 
leonine personality and wide reading, Babbitt soon 
acquired a group of devoted disciples, especially through 
his courses in comparative literature, such as Rousseau 
and Romanticism or the Masters of Modern French 
Criticism. He could make ideas seem exciting, and lit- 
erature meant to him mostly ideas; he cared little for 
the esthetic. As a thinker Babbitt was not without fore- 
sight. Even his admiration of Tennyson's line to Vergil, 
"Thou majestic in thy sadness at the doubtful doom of 
human kind," seems justified by recent events. Like 
Matthew Arnold, one of his favorite critics, he had a 
command of irony and a gift for the telling quotation. 
His lectures, which tended to be circular rather than 
to move in a straight line of development, were strewn 
with such a wealth of quotations that undergraduates 
sometimes pooled small sums which became the prop- 
erty of the student guessing most accurately how many 
authors would be mentioned in the morning's lecture. 

Some of Babbitt's admirers, like Douglas Bush or 
Theodore Spencer, could learn from him without being 
imprisoned by his point of view. Others took his phrases 
and catchwords too seriously. For Babbitt, who some- 
times seemed unmindful that classifications are not 
eternal truths and that what it is now fashionable to 



call dichotomies are just as untrustworthy, tended to 
consider all life and literature as good or bad in rela- 
tion to his own dichotomous and now largely dis- 
credited notions of what is "romantic" or "classic/* 
Babbitt was not slow to publicize a clash between his 
views and those of several members of the Department 
of English, as when, for instance, he criticized at meet- 
ings of graduate students William Allan Neilson's book 
on poetry or, still later, J. L. Lowes's treatment of Cole- 
ridge. Some could find both Kittredge and Babbitt stim- 
ulating, whether or not they took seriously the notion 
that the two men represented different scholarly tradi- 
tions, or believed that one of these traditions was in- 
trinsically better than the other. Nevertheless for others 
in the early years of the century the Babbitt-Kittredge 
polarity existed, 14 and was still alive in the 1920's and 
even the 1930's, when a student remembered that Kitt- 
redge, in response to a question, refused privately to 
classify himself as either a Classicist or a Romanticist. 
He would just as soon divide himself and let the two 
parts fall to buffets. When someone in a group won- 
dered what Babbitt thought of De Quincey, Kittredge 
replied that he would prefer to learn what De Quincey 
would have thought of Babbitt. 

As a Harvard student, though he admired Babbitt 
more, Stuart P. Sherman was impressed by both Babbitt 
and Kittredge, and afterwards, in talking to members of 
his department at the University of Illinois, commended 
both, as men who "had put all they had into their pro- 
fession: . . . Their teaching is stamped with the full 
weight of their passion, their imagination, their char- 
acter. They are not mere channels of information. They 
are moulders of men. They shape and form the person- 



alities that come within their reach." 15 According to his 
classmate, Sherman keenly enjoyed Kittredge's courses 
in Shakespeare and Beowulf, incidentally recording in 
his diary one of his teacher's temperamental moments 
in the latter course: "Several of the youths had no 
books. Grendel in wrath dons hat and coat and rages 
from the room." 16 

Though his biographers thought that Sherman's 
feelings about even Gothic would have been different 
if he had studied under its usual teacher, Professor 
H. C. G. von Jagemann, 17 to Sherman, as to others, such 
requirements as Gothic were distasteful. Paul Elmer 
More, Irving Babbitt's friend, who shared many of Bab- 
bitt's views and whom Sherman had met at Babbitt's 
house, was in 1913 editor of the Nation, and it was in 
this magazine that Sherman's article, "Professor Kitt- 
redge and the Teaching of English," ostensibly an un- 
signed review of the Kittredge Anniversary volume, 
appeared. 18 

In part Sherman's article is a skilful though not a 
well-rounded sketch of a personality, with some mere 
caricature and even distortion, not to mention satirical 
and slightly malicious passages. To say this is not to 
deny that his biographers were sincere in believing it in 
part a tribute to a brilliant scholar and teacher. It was, 
they also believed, an attack on a system, the results of 
graduate training, for which Sherman assumes that Kitt- 
redge was responsible a large assumption and one not 
completely in harmony with another of his assumptions, 
that the abuses of literary study were to be connected 
with the encroachments of science. A leading complaint 
was that at Harvard the literature of recent centuries 
was neglected while candidates gave their days and 



nights to medieval philology. Sherman lists all "philo- 
logical" courses then offered as if they were compulsory 
(in Old and Middle English much literature was read; 
Beowulf indeed was primarily a literary course). Old 
Norse, Celtic, and other superfluities which Sherman 
drags in as "the rind" along with "the core" were never 
required. Yet the total linguistic requirements, which 
hardly surpassed in quantity the requirements for a 
minor at some universities, were obnoxious to many. 
Sherman rightly deplored lack of due attention, in 
graduate studies, to the literature of recent centuries, 
sometimes slighted even in Ph. D. examinations. To be 
sure, Sherman himself had taken courses in the later 
centuries under Charles Townsend Copeland, Carleton 
Brown (then briefly at Harvard), and Barrett Wendell. 
Afterwards indeed he was to pay his respects to Wen- 
dell, then seeing him as something more than a man 
entering a classroom "with a cane, in a cutaway coat 
and spats, with the air of an Anglicized Boston man of 
letters who had crossed the Charles to speak to the boys 
about life." 1 '* 

Admittedly, Kittredge was a dominant figure in the 
Department of English, though, as it may be well to 
repeat, never its chairman. His own knowledge and en- 
thusiasm extended over the whole range of literature, 
but most of his scholarly research and his teaching, like 
Child's, concerned earlier periods. If it had been con- 
centrated on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 
one doubts whether Sherman would have complained 
that earlier periods were neglected. One could perhaps 
defend emphasis on the early periods, often in danger 
of being misunderstood or neglected, as providing de- 
sirable background for studies of a later period, which . 



could more easily be pursued without formal instruc- 
tion. Before 1910 earlier literature probably received 
more attention at many universities, not merely at Har- 
vard, than the literature of recent times. Perusal of the 
subjects chosen for Ph. D. theses at Harvard between 
1890 and 1936, the year of Kittredge's retirement, indi- 
cates that considerably less than half of the theses deal 
with literature before Elizabethan times, that some deal 
with general topics, and that only a small number are 
concerned with linguistics. 

To be sure, in 1913 traditions established in the 
time of Francis James Child 20 were still strong, and 
Kittredge was essentially a conservative. Neither Child 
nor Kittredge, trained classicists and able linguists, had 
themselves bothered to undergo the limitations im- 
posed by a struggle for the Ph. D. degree. At Harvard 
the degree did not become a fetish, though persons like 
Williams James, in his "Ph. D. Octopus/' had com- 
plained of its dangers. As late as in a book published in 
1930, C. H. Grandgent could point out that twenty-one 
members of the permanent staff in modern languages 
(including English, of course) had Ph. D.'s and twenty- 
eight did not. 21 Those who set up the original programs 
could hardly foresee that a new generation, with little 
or no training in the classics, would find linguistic re- 
quirements a formidable difficulty. 

In spite of Sherman's exaggerations and occasional 
distortions, his criticism of the emphasis of the Harvard 
graduate program in English now, of course, seems de- 
fensible. Apparently, too, he avoided a common assump- 
tion of professors, that the best possible training is what 
they themselves have had in itself, perhaps, no worse 
than the assumption that the kind of training others 



have had is probably worthless, an assumption often 
made by those who know nothing of such training, or 
its results. 

Sherman was the spokesman for what was becoming 
a more insistent point of view. His earlier signed letter 
to the Nation in 1908, which apparently attracted some 
attention in Cambridge, was one of several criticisms of 
graduate training in the large universities. 22 

His most perverse comment in 1913 was, "We are 
inclined to doubt whether he considers it any part of 
his function to impart to his students a love of litera- 
ture/' The statement was at once challenged by Charles 
Wharton Stork, whose letter to the Nation, published a 
week later, September 18, declares that, though he had 
studied for eight years at four reputable institutions, 
"from no course did I receive more illumination 
through the interpreting of literature than I obtained 
from English 2 at Harvard (Professor Kittredge's course 
on six plays of Shakespeare)/' Stork remembered that 
the plays were "unfolded before us as living organic 
wholes of art"; he could remember discussions of char- 
acters and of splendors of diction ten years after he had 
taken the course, which had been and continued to be 
an inspiration. 

Kittredge's own response to Sherman, whose doc- 
toral thesis he is said to have admired for its unusual 
literary quality, 23 was a dignified silence. As one would 
expect, the Nation article rankled. Years later, in a note 
to a friend who had sent him a copy of The Mauve 
Decade, he wrote: "Stuart Sherman's dithyrambic on 
the marked sentence is amusing enough. He says he had 
rather have written it than the Cambridge History, etc. 



A gibing retort would be: 'Yes, but you have done 
neither/ " 24 

Kittredge's lecture on "The Scholar and the Ped- 
ant," delivered at the inauguration of President Mac- 
Cracken of Vassar College in October of 1915 may read 
like an indirect defense, though it is mainly a scholar's 
defense against the cliches aimed at scholars. It consid- 
ers some supposed characteristics of pedants. Are they 
cocksure and impatient of correction? "Intolerant dog- 
matists" are to be found in many trades and professions. 
If a distorted sense of values is the earmark of pedantry, 
we may ask whether those who "would make a bonfire 
of our collectanea and dance merrily around the dying 
embers of our special publications" may be guilty of 
such distortion. As for values, one may know a plumber 
"who cares more for my money than for the cultivation 
of his sensorium, and more for the cultivation of his 
sensoriurn than for the distinction between Words- 
worth's theory of nature and Keats's attitude towards 
nature, and least of all for the saving of his soul." Is a 
specialized vocabulary the mark of the pedant? The use 
of such a vocabulary, like the assumption of specialized 
knowledge, is just as common in other callingsfor in- 
stance, among physicians and lawyers as among schol- 
ars. Kittredge mentions some playful examples of the 
kind not heard among the latter, e.g., "It is the little u 
and i umlauts of life that make up social intercourse/' 
along with some choice examples of pretentious truisms 
of actual literary critics, no less absurd. The greatest de- 
lusion of all, he adds, is "that pedantry, or freedom from 
pedantry, consists or inheres in the subject that one in- 
vestigates rather than in the nature of the investigator 
himself; also deluded is the man "who supposes that a 



jejune and unimaginative intellect will blossom as the 
rose under the fertilizing influence of lectures on the 
art of poetry, or that a rich and lively mind will wither 
arici fade under the blight of medievalism or the frosty 
touch of linguistic science/' Pedantry, far from being 
peculiar to scholars, exists in all walks of life. For prac- 
tical purposes, the pedant may be defined as "any man 
who uses a set of technical terms that differ from mine." 

Would Phoebus Apollo himself be at home in an 
exclusively modern world? "Phoebus is an ancient. He 
belongs to an age outworn. I am afraid he spoke Greek 
when he was in his prime, and we moderns have got far 
beyond the necessity of comprehending the dead lan- 
guages, even if it be the speech of the ever-living gods/' 

The lecturer's own faith was that "scholarship, in its 
most rigorous sense, is a necessary element of culture. 
. . . Do not dishearten it. Do not insult it (and stultify 
yourselves) by confusing it with pedantry/' 

C. N. Greenough referred to "The Scholar and the 
Pedant" as "a fine combination of wisdom and fire- 
works/' Another friend suggested to Kittredge that it 
be sent to Paul Elmer More "as the retort courteous- 
yes, and direct to some pedants we might name" (one 
recalls that it was during More's editorship of the Na- 
tion that Sherman's anonymous review had been pub- 
lished in 1913). J. D. M. Ford, his colleague in Romance 
Languages, thought Irving Babbitt should have a copy. 
"Perusal of it might help towards his regeneration. At 
any rate a knowledge of your remarks might wake him 
to a realization of the attitude of scholars towards ped- 
antic super-critics of the pseudo-literary type." Another 
friend noted that Kittredge himself had never met a 



pedant, since "no one is ever regarded as a pedant ex- 
cept by one who knows less than he does." 25 

An eminent scholar remembered Kittredge as "a 
force o nature." Another eminent scholar, not long be- 
fore his own death, confessed: "For many decades I 
never dreamed of judging him. He was something there, 
like the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River/' 
This scholar did not think his own graduate training 
the best possible. "The great discipline of Harvard 
scholarship in that day was its insistence on having the 
facts before you stated your conclusions. . . . This may 
indeed be a handicap to the critic who lives by bold 
speculation and hasty generalization. It slows you down 
and makes heavy reading. And it does not conduce to 
flashy effects. But it may save you from false steps and 
the mere flash in the pan. ... I do enjoy the game of 
literary criticism and the bandying about of theories. 
But theories are better, I think, for being grounded in 
fact. And terms are better for being precise and con- 
sistently applied. All that is, of course, something of a 
handicap for one looking for quick results. But, for 
better or worse, that is what I owe to the Kittredge 
system." 26 

Fashions in scholarship change, and, regardless of 
systems, both the fruits and the abuses of scholarship 
depend upon the individual scholar. One generation 
may convince itself that the social and economic faith 
of authors is the chief concern; the next one may be 
persuaded that counting symbols, whether regarded as 
the key to an author's meaning or not, is of more con- 
sequence than the imaginary Renaissance scholar's doc- 
trine of a certain enclitic. The historic point of view at 
least contributes to the perspective that comes from not 



taking intellectual fashions too seriously, and at its best 
historical criticism can destroy the barriers that prevent 
understanding the past and its literature. To impart a 
sense of historical perspective was also a leading purpose 
of "the Kittredge system." But Kittredge was superior 
to systems, whether his own or our favorite system. 


Homage to Chaucer and Sir Gawain 

BEFORE 1913 HARVARD had a publication office but not 
a fully organized university press. In October o 1912 
President Lowell appointed Kittredge as a member of a 
committee to study the possibilities of a press, and in 
the following January as a member of a group which 
met to consider its organization. Appointed also on the 
first Board of Syndics, he served as a Syndic longer than 
any of his colleagues. As a former member of the pub- 
lishing staff of the Harvard University Press has gracefully 
written of him, " Tirst came and last did go/ and I 
would add emphatically, 'the pilot of the Galilean lake/ 
for he was our pilot in a very literal sense." During near- 
ly a quarter of a century he devoted a good deal of time 
and energy to the Press, looking over manuscripts and 
making editorial suggestions, on occasion proposing a 
happy change of title, sometimes concerning himself 
with typographical arrangement, and almost invariably 
going over proofs of the books he had specially recom- 
mended. Mr. David Pottinger found him eager to learn 
about the more recondite details of printing, and was, 
like some other observers, constantly struck with his 
"tremendous modesty and geniality." Another associate 
once referred to his sagacity in predicting the sales of 

His friendship of some thirty years with Edwin 
Ginn, the idealistic founder of Ginn and Company, had 
led to friendships with other members of that firm. 1 
Kittredge was apparently responsible for the appoint- 



ment of Charles H. Thurber, Ginn's editor, to the first 
Board of Syndics and to some co-operation in publish- 
ing, as when an occasional book or even a series, such as 
Lanman's Harvard Oriental Series or the Harvard Eng- 
lish Studies, was moved from the Ginn to the Harvard 
list, which to some extent reflected Kittredge 's personal 
interests for example, in the ballad. It is fitting that 
the building which now houses the Harvard University 
Press at 79 Garden Street is named Kittredge Hall. 

Furthermore, Kittredge's scholarly books, with the 
exception of his editions of Shakespeare, in which Ginn 
and Company had shown an interest before the end of 
the previous century, bore the imprint of the Harvard 
University Press. These included his Tercentenary Lec- 
ture Shakspere, discussed in a later chapter. The first of 
his books to be published by the Press was Chaucer and 
His Poetry (1915), containing lectures delivered at the 
Johns Hopkins University in 1914, the culmination of 
many years of study. The book may be viewed in this 


Chaucer himself has written lines that should serve 
as a warning to a host of commentators: 

"Glosynge is a glorious thyng, certeyn," 

"For when a man hath over-greet a wit, 
Ful oft hym happeth to mysusen it." 

Kittredge needed no such warnings; he was never 
tempted to construct theories running counter to the 
facts of human nature. For instance, he was not tempted 



to suppose, as one scholar did, that Chaucer wrote a ver- 
sion of the Knight's Tale in seven-line stanzas "for his 
own use" before writing it in couplets, nor did he search 
for political allegory in the Nun's Priest's Tale. In fact 
he demolished Brandl's notion that the Squire's Tale 
refers to John of Gaunt. Would "the haughtiest noble 
in England" have been pleased with a poem that "rep- 
resented his daughter as a heart-broken deserted wife" 
assigning the role of kite, the person causing the de- 
sertion, to a girl in reality only eleven years old and 
publish the poem after the daughter's second marriage? 2 
Brandl, a German scholar of some eminence but evi- 
dently a hasty reader and rash speculator, was also con- 
victed of confusing two of the dramatis personae in the 
pseudo-Chaucerian "Chaucer's Dreme" a confusion 
upsetting his theory that it was a begging poem: "Surely 
no poet ever before begged money of a duchess by tell- 
ing her that he dreamed she was his wife." 3 Kittredge 
subsequently tripped Brandl for misinterpreting the 
pseudo-Chaucerian "Court of Love." 

A student trained by Child would hardly begin his 
career as a Chaucerian scholar without a thorough un- 
derstanding of Chaucer's language. With his epoch-mak- 
ing Observations on the Language of Chaucer (1861-63), 
based on The Canterbury Tales, Child himself had 
pointed the way. In the eighteenth century Thomas 
Tyrwhitt had rediscovered the pronunciation of the 
final e in Chaucer, thus doing more for appreciation of 
the poet's rhythm than any literary critic. A work which 
some have thought could have been a Ph. D. thesis, 
Kittredge's early Observations on the Language of 
Chaucer's Troilus, dedicated to Child "in gratitude and 
affection," extended the knowledge of Chaucer's lan- 



guage and meter, as did John M. Manly's actual Ph. D. 
thesis, Observations on the Language of Chaucer's Leg- 
end of Good Women, modeled on Kittredge's study. 4 
Kittredge's articles on Chaucer won the approval of 
F. J. Furnivall, founder of the Chaucer Society and a 
potent encourager of scholarly enterprise, who con- 
gratulated Kittredge on having "upset Brandl" and 
other theorists, and of the learned editor of Chaucer, 
W. W. Skeat. 

His bibliographer lists thirty-nine Chaucer items by 
Kittredge, classifying them as twenty-seven articles, nine 
reviews, and three monographs. One may recall, too, 
that Kittredge frequently taught one semester of the 
general course in Chaucer, though sharing it with 
others and at times relinquishing it to men like Neil- 
son, Tatlock, and Lowes; for many years he also taught 
Special Topics in Chaucer, a course for graduate stu- 
dents. His role as Chaucerian is subordinate only to his 
role as Shakespearian. For a time, as extant correspond- 
ence shows, 5 he contemplated an edition of Chaucer- an 
assignment brilliantly carried out by his student and 
friend, F. N. Robinson, who in his preface of 1933 gen- 
erously acknowledged that among scholars he "owed 
most to Professor Kittredge. ... I have drawn freely 
upon his learning and wisdom during a friendship of 
more than forty years." Other illustrious Chaucer schol- 
ars, such as John M. Manly, J. S. P. Tatlock, and J. L. 
Lowes, were also his debtors. 

Among the articles preceding the publication of 
Chaucer and His Poetry two deserve particular men- 
tion. One of these, "The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue 
and Tale," contributed to the Transactions of the Royal 
Society of Literature (1910), 6 now inaccessible to most 



readers, well illustrates Kittredge's special gift as in- 
terpreter of Chaucer. The article points out that there 
is no substantial indication whether the tale is an after- 
thought, since Chaucer would hardly have given ad- 
vance notice of his intention "to subserve variety and 
liveliness by making a couple of unlooked-for travellers 
join the cavalcade on the road." The General Prologue 
is "the first act of the play," not a place to predict the 
future. "Was Chaucer's intellect so frigidly schematic 
as to exclude a chance meeting from his original plan?" 
The Yeoman's role is that of a "setter," who tries to win 
his new companions' confidence. But "he is trying his 
wiles on a Southwark innkeeper, whose business equip- 
ment includes a sharp eye for seedy travellers with light 
luggage. 'Why isn't your master better dressed if he is 
such a wonderfully skilful man? Where do you live 
when you are at home?' These are hard questions. The 
first of them the Yeoman manages to parry. The second 
beats down his guard." The third question is even more 
crucial to the man who now realizes that his money and 
faith in alchemy are gone: "Why artow [art thou] so 
discoloured of thy face?" 

" 'Peter!' quod he, 'God yeve it harde grace, 

I am so used in the fyr to blowe 

That it hath chaunged my colour, I trowe. 

I am not wont in no mirour to prye, 

But swinke sore and lerne multiplye.' 

" 'I didn't know there was anything the matter with 
my face. I'm not in the habit of looking in the glass. It 
must come from my always having to blow the fire!' " 
The easy naturalness and liveliness of the paraphrase 
are characteristic. (Perhaps the best example of Kitt- 
redge's wit in paraphrasing Chaucer relates to the line 



about the Wife of Bath, "She passed hem of Ypres and 
of Gaunt": "She beat the Dutch.") "The dull discon- 
tent that has been smouldering in the Yeoman's heart 
blazes up," Kittredge continues, "as the Host plies the 
poker." He quarrels with the Canon; after the latter has 
fled, he "bursts forth in a passionately incoherent ex- 
posure of the whole system of alchemical charlatanism." 
An important distinction must be made between Chau- 
cer's attitude towards the alchemists and his attitude to- 
wards alchemy. Kittredge ends his discussion by point- 
ing out the error of assuming that the Canon's Yeo- 
man's Tale represents a peculiarly "modern" point of 
view, for one of Petrarch's dialogues makes most of the 
points the Canon's Yeoman makes. His paper illustrates 
Kittredge's power to bring out human interest and 
dramatic qualities, and his historic sense to say nothing 
of learning tempered by judgment and a sense of hu- 

Some of these qualities are apparent in "Chaucer's 
Discussion of Marriage," 7 which set forth in fuller de- 
tail than in Chaucer and His Poetry the interrelations 
among the stories belonging to the so-called marriage 
group. The definition of this group is one of Kittredge's 
chief contributions to Chaucerian criticism. He shows 
that the question of sovereignty in marriage, broached 
by the Wife of Bath and illustrated by her tale, is dis- 
cussed from a contrary point of view by the Clerk, into 
whose mouth Chaucer puts a ballade that is a triumph 
of veiled irony directed against such formidable women 
as the Wife ("ye archewyves"). The savage irony of the 
Merchant's Tale, in which a dotard, the ancient Janu- 
ary, is beguiled by the unchaste May, echoes some of the 
Wife of Bath's phrasing; and the Host mentions his own 



wife chaste enough but shrewish before the question 
of sovereignty is resolved by the Franklin's Tale, in 
which neither the husband nor the wife tries to exer- 
cise sovereignty over the other: 

"Whan maistrie comth, the God of Love 

Beteth his wynges, and farewel, he is gon!" 

In relation to the end-link introducing the Franklin's 
Tale, incidentally, Kittredge points out the Host's occa- 
sional efforts to anger the pilgrims, who always respond 
politely so as to avoid paying the forfeit mentioned in 
the Prologue as chargeable to anybody who resists his 
pleasure as master of ceremonies. 

Kittredge thought the Franklin's solution was based 
on Chaucer's wise observation of the strife of married 
couples. Elsewhere he compared the jocosities of the 
Epistle to Bukton ("Lenvoy de Chaucer a Bukton") to 
the kind of speech made at a bachelors' banquet for a 
groom-to-be, showing flexibility of mind enough to 
understand the humorous tone of a poem solemnly mis- 
taken by a few critics (John Masefield among them) as 
reflecting Chaucer's alleged misogamous views. 

The discussion of the marriage group, somewhat 
modified in Chaucer and His Poetry, was at once widely 
accepted and is still regarded as valid, whatever one 
may think of the unconvincing attempts to add other 
stories to the group. 8 

An early chapter of Chaucer and His Poetry, Kitt- 
redge's interpretation of The Book of the Duchess in 
the light of its dream psychology, its literary tact in the 
presentation of grief, and Chaucer's methods as an artist 
as seen in the treatment of sources the earlier study of 
"Chaucer and Froissart" had helped to lay the founda- 



tion for the latter topichas led some students to think 
of Kittredge's discussion of the poem as more beguiling 
than the poem itself. 9 Instead of being treated as a liter- 
ary puzzle, The House of Fame is viewed as a sensible 
treatment of a ruling passion. The Troilus is inter- 
preted as a great psychological novel, 10 its complex 
characters being seen against the background of an 
overshadowing destiny and the code of courtly love. 
Kittredge could illustrate his belief that intensive lin- 
guistic study does not militate against literary apprecia- 
tion, by mentioning prolonged scrutiny of the linguistic 
aspects of the Troilus, which left him, he felt, with a 
vastly enriched appreciation of its literary greatness. 
Who, after reading what he has to say of that in Chau- 
cer and His Poetry, could doubt the aptness of the il- 

Kittredge's strength as an interpreter of Chaucer lay 
partly in the robustness of his own personality, which 
enabled him to sympathize with the Wife of Bath's hu- 
mor or Pandarus* savoir-faire. But he could also feel the 
pathos of the young child's report, in the Prioress's 
Tale, of Our Lady's words, " 'Be nat agast, I wol thee 
nat forsake/ " His treatment of the Pardoner, first ana- 
lyzed in his Atlantic Monthly article of 1893, is more 
subtle; though perhaps more often questioned, his hy- 
pothesis seemed to him to fit all the facts better than 
any other. The learning from which the book sprang is 
so skilfully assimilated that, as H. E. Rollins remarks in 
his Introduction to the ninth impression (1946), "There 
are masked batteries of learning behind even the sim- 
plest sentences/' Even if the lectures that compose 
Chaucer and His Poetry, delivered at the Johns Hop- 
kins University in 1914, owed nothing to the stimulus 



of Stuart P. Sherman's article in the Nation, discussed 
elsewhere one member of Kittredge's family thought 
otherwise the book was the best possible response. The 
critics' reception of it must have been gratifying to the 
author. 11 

It is hardly necessary to detail here the several rather 
technical questions on which Kittredge's position may 
be vindicated, such as the date of the Troilus^ or the 
relative chronology of the two versions of the Prologue 
to The Legend of Good Women; but one must not pass 
over entirely his synthesis of many bits of evidence to 
form the only theory that fits all the facts about Chau- 
cer's "Lollius" in Troilus and Criseyde^ Some scholars 
thought Lollius was Boccaccio, from whose // Filostrato 
the story was mainly derived, yet Chaucer ascribes to 
Lollius some lines based on a sonnet by Petrarch. If 
Lollius was Petrarch, as others supposed, why did Chau- 
cer attribute to Lollius parts of the story not found in 
Italian poetry and mention him as an old author, an 
ancient authority? And if "Lollius" was only a fiction, 
why does The House of Fame refer to him as one who 
bore up the fame of Troy, along with other authors 
known to exist? The only hypothesis that fits all the 
references to Lollius and "myn auctour" is that Chaucer 
was consciously using a literary device, ascribing his 
story to Lollius as Goldsmith ascribed his Citizen of the 
World to a Chinese visiting London, or Maurice Hew- 
lett his Richard Yea-and-Nay to an old chronicler. Fic- 
titious ascriptions were not unusual among medieval 
authors, who felt no compulsion to acknowledge their 
real indebtedness. Though in his Teseide Boccaccio says 
that he came across an old story which he turned into 
Italian rhyme, he says nothing of his substantial in- 



debtedness to Statius, nor does his II Filostrato mention 
Benoit's Roman de Troie; similarly, Chaucer, while 
silent about Boccaccio, professes to take from the Latin 
of Lollius the story of Troilus. 

How can this hypothesis be reconciled with Chau- 
cer's belief in an actual Lollius, as indicated in The 
House of Fame? The reference in that poem had been 
explained in 1868 by R. G. Latham, who directed at- 
tention to a passage in one of Horace's Epistles: 

Scriptorem belli Trojani [,] maxime Lolli, 
Dum tu declamas Romae, Praeneste relegi. 

The Epistle, in reality addressed to Lollius, which in- 
troduces matters dealt with in the Homeric poems, 
could easily have been corrupted or misunderstood in 
medieval times, when modern punctuation and capitals 
were lacking, when it was not known, furthermore, that 
"maxime" (or "Maxime") was part of the name, so that 
Horace might, for instance, appear to speak of Lollius 
as a great historian of the Trojan War instead of saying 
that he himself had been rereading at Praeneste the his- 
torian of the Trojan War i. e., Homer "while you, 
Maximus Lollius, are declaiming at Rome." Kittredge 
points out that the erroneous inference regarding Lol- 
lius by Chaucer or a predecessor could have arisen in 
various ways. These need not be considered here, since 
the view that the passage in Horace was the source of 
the error was supported in 1950 by Professor Pratt's 
pointing out that a twelfth-century manuscript substi- 
tuted scriptorum for scriptorem, leading to the false sup- 
position about Lollius, and that a French translator of 
the passage assumed that Lollius was the chief writer 
on the Trojan War. 14 



Kittredge's contribution had an importance beyond 
the mere identifying of Lollius; it concerned Chaucer's 
use of an artistic device, his ascription of the story, of 
material springing from his own invention and not 
merely from various sources, to an ancient authority. 
The English medievalist G. G. Coulton somewhat re- 
luctantly announced himself as a convert to Kittredge's 
explanation. 15 The Nation for August 16, 1917, in prais- 
ing "the erudition, the wit, and the trenchant good 
sense of Professor Kittredge" in solving the puzzle, also 
mentioned his amusing demonstration that Lounsbury 
and others who had considered the problem of Lollius 
had misconstrued Horace, Chaucer, Boccaccio, and one 
another in a manner that "estops them from throw- 
ing stones at Chaucer" for his possible misreading of 
Horace. Eminent Chaucerians did not enjoy being con- 
victed of error by one who, though an expert linguist 
and a scholar who verified his references, disavowed 
claims to infallibility. 


Kittredge's Study of Gawain and the Green Knight 
(1916) was first announced about thirteen years before 
its publication, in a footnote to his Arthur and Gor- 
lagon. lQ Though it was nearly finished then, he revised 
it from year to year and gave it "a final overhauling" 
not long before it went to the printer. 

The hero of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the 
finest of the Middle English romances, by an unknown 
author of Chaucer's century, was popular in the Middle 
Ages. Chaucer's Squire's reference to "Gawayne with 
his olde curteisye" is like a delicate aroma to those 
familiar with the qualities for which, at least before 



Malory, Sir Gawain was distinguished. The English 
romance indeed has as its main theme the testing of 
those qualities courage, "truth/ 7 purity, and courtesy. 
Readers familiar with the romance will recall how the 
Green Knight rode to Arthur's court with his challenge 
to a beheading match; how Gawain volunteered to ac- 
cept it and beheaded the knight; how the Green Knight 
rode away with his head in his hand, after reminding 
Gawain of his tryst at the Green Chapel the next New 
Year's morning, to receive the return blow; how Ga- 
wain found his way to a castle, where he made an agree- 
ment with its lord to exchange gifts received during the 
last three days of his visit; how the lady of the castle 
tempted Gawain on those days; how he survived the 
meeting with the Green Knight, identical with the lord 
of the castle, whom he met near a green mound, receiv- 
ing only a slight wound because of his silence about the 
protective green lace which the lady of the castle had 
given him; and, finally, how he learned of the Green 
Knight's motive, to carry out Morgan le Fay's plan to 
terrify Guinevere and Arthur's knights. 

The first section of the Study of Gawain and the 
Green Knight traces the history of the tale from The 
Champion's Bargain, the Irish original of the part con- 
nected with the challenge, to the final form of the Eng- 
lish romance, accounting for changes and identifying 
their sources. To say that the book is a tour de force of 
a now unfashionable kind would be a facile criticism, 
all the more tempting because the work considered is 
medieval and anonymous instead of modern and of 
known authorship. 

Aside from clarifying the interrelationships of sev- 
eral literary works, the book shows what is most original 



in the English romance especially the motivation of 
the Green Knight's challenge, passages about the leg- 
endary history of Britain, Gawain's travels in search of 
the Green Chapel and the arming of Gawain, the three 
hunting scenes, "the breaking of the deer," the descrip- 
tions of winter and other descriptive touches, in all 
likelihood the mingled delicacy and sophistication of the 
lady of the castle's amorous advances, and much else 
that may be identified as literary and poetic technique. 

The methods employed by folklorists in investigat- 
ing the relations of folktales and ballads do not greatly 
differ from those used by the editor of a critical edition 
in order to set up a sound text; only a comparison of 
resemblances and differences can establish a table of 
relationships. It is unnecessary to detail here the steps 
by which the author is led to postulate a lost French 
romance 17 which brought together the two main com- 
ponentsthe challenge and the temptation. The form 
which both assumed before being united is recon- 
structed from evidence supplied by existing works. The 
network was intricate, and the author once confessed 
that at a certain point he found himself writing a pas- 
sage totally out of keeping with what he had previously 
written, being led in a new direction. 

Besides tracing the history of the romance, the Study 
illustrates certain topics in folklore and medieval litera- 
ture. The motif of the returning or surviving head, for 
instance, is related to primitive thought to the belief 
that a snake will survive after its head is cut off. His- 
torical evidence, too, indicates actual belief that sensi- 
bility remains after beheading; consider the report of 
Charlotte Corday's blush after her execution or the no- 
tion that Charles II's head "opened its eyes and looked 



reproachfully at the executioners/' Besides that of re- 
turning and talking heads, the topics of disenchantment 
by decapitation and dueling by alternation are illus- 
trated by an abundance of curious lore. After the pub- 
lication of Frazer's Golden Bough, vegetation demons 
had been prominent in scholarly speculation. The use 
of the color green, a fairy color, which the Green 
Knight, his horse, and trappings owed to the English 
author or some predecessor, had no demonstrable con- 
nection with the vegetation demon, though the choice 
of color may well have been influenced by primitive 
ideas about natural forces. 


"The Apotheosis of Kittredge" 


THE STORY OF Kittredge's later years is mainly a record 
of continued scholarship and teaching. On April 27, 
1917, the Gurney Professorship of English Literature 
was established, under the terms of a bequest by Ellen 
Gurney in 1888, and Kittredge was appointed to fill the 
new chair, after his retirement to be filled successively 
by two of his former students, F. N. Robinson and 
H. E. Rollins. 

As a Harvard celebrity he was sometimes asked to 
escort eminent persons receiving honorary degrees, as 
when such degrees were conferred on the British am- 
bassador, Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, in 1917, or General 
John J. Pershing in 1920. Kittredge, too, received his 
share of honorary degrees. The University of Chicago 
(1901), Harvard (1907), Johns Hopkins (1915), and Mc- 
Gill (1921) gave him honorary doctorates before Yale 
University did so in 1924. Others were to follow: Brown 
(1925), Oxford (1932), Union College, which made him 
Honorary Chancellor for a year besides conferring an 
honorary degree in 1936, and Colby College (1940). 

In 1924, at New Haven, he was the guest of his 
friend William Lyon Phelps, the Commencement ora- 
tor, who characterized him as the man ''generally ac- 
knowledged to be the foremost English scholar in Amer- 
ica." Phelps, more sensible of his friend's humanity 
than of the dark suspicions of the unlearned regarding 
"encyclopedic" memories, also called him "a living en- 
cyclopedia of useful and accurate information," whose 



name "is in hundreds of prefaces of important books/' 
After paying tribute to the teacher, too, he concluded 
with the statement that to itemize Kittredge's honors 
"would make us late for the Alumni Dinner/' In his 
answer to R. M. Hutchins' letter of invitation, Kitt- 
redge had already indicated his willingness to speak at 
the luncheon. The Yale University Librarian, Andrew 
Keogh, afterwards wrote him enthusiastically of the 
impression made on the alumni by Kittredge's words 
about the Yale Library. 

His previous public addresses had included one at 
the 275th anniversary of the Roxbury Latin School in 
1920 (Kittredge, in 1895 president of its alumni associa- 
tion, had also spoken at its 250th anniversary) and one 
at the reunion of the Phillips Exeter alumni (1921). A 
report of "smoke talks" at various meetings of the Mod- 
ern Language Association of America had led a pub- 
lisher, Ferris Greenslet, to inquire whether a volume of 
essays could not be based on them. 1 One of the most 
notable of such talks was Kittredge's speech on Decem- 
ber 31, 1926, at the annual dinner of the Association at 
the Copley Plaza Hotel. It included some light remarks 
on prohibition, humorous "proof from his plays that 
Shakespeare was a smoker here he came close to paro- 
dying the methods of those who sought for Shake- 
speare's personality in his dramas and some notes on 
the claims of scientists, who, though not meek, wished 
to inherit the earth notes prompted by a humanist's 
misgivings at a time when scientists were stepping out- 
side their professional sphere to express authoritarian 
opinions on subjects ranging from politics to social and 
personal salvation. 2 On this occasion C. H. Grandgent, 
who introduced the speaker, as usual made humorous 



comments at his expense, for he enjoyed their recurrent 
"flytings." A guest at the dinner wondered whether 
Kittredge was a bit nettled, but he could hardly have 
been surprised by his friend's customary tactics. 


Before 1912 Kittredge's most striking addition to 
Americana was The Old Farmer and His Almanack; 
the second impression, published by the Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, came out in 1920, sixteen years after the 
first. From 1912 till his retirement other writings on 
American subjects, chiefly on colonial figures, were to 
appear, all of them illustrating his attachment to New 
England, his conservatism, and his historical perspec- 
tive. He proved that Cotton Mather, falsely pictured as 
a pretender to such status, really was elected a member 
of the Royal Society. 3 At President Lowell's suggestion 
"F.R.S." was restored after Cotton Mather's name in 
the next edition of the Harvard Quinquennial Catalog. 

Kittredge confessed that for some years he had 
shared the depreciatory view of the Mathers. But he 
had finally concluded that Cotton Mather, so often 
charged with obscurantism, was really among "the best- 
informed Americans of his time in scientific matters/' 
a man "in intimate contact with European progress." 
Kittredge's Introduction to a work by the Mathers 
dwelt on their enlightened attitude towards inoculation 
for smallpox, an attitude which they defended in time 
of bitter hostility to inoculation as contrary to God's 
will. With Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, Cotton Mather stood 
for the employment of inoculation on a large scale in 
the smallpox epidemics of 1721 and 1722, when their 
stand was opposed alike by physicians and laity. Long 



before the outbreak of these epidemics Mather had 
planned his thoughtful advocacy of this method of cop- 
ing with the disease. Indeed he may have been the first 
person formally to call to the notice of Europeans the 
practice of inoculation in Africa. 

A member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 
at whose meetings several of Kittredge's papers were 
presented, spoke of those meetings as "retreats of al- 
most monastic sanctity, whither they [the members] 
could resort to find respite from the outward passions 
of life, and to indulge undisturbed the interests and 
affections that are dear to them/' If the meetings were 
not exactly this to a man of more strenuous outlook like 
Kittredge, they were certainly congenial gatherings for 
discussions of historic subjects. Of the several written 
for the Society, Kittredge's most ambitious paper was 
"Dr. Robert Child the Remonstrant," which proved 
that, instead of being, as had been supposed, an advo- 
cate of religious toleration, Child had sought to subvert 
the Massachusetts government in order to make Presby- 
terianism a state religion. The paper introduces other 
information about Child, as well as some notes on New 
England physicians' interest in alchemy. 

Possibly in recognition of his writings on American 
subjects, as well as his eminence as a scholar, Kittredge 
was invited to serve during 1930 and 1931 on the Ad- 
visory Board of American Literature. 


For more than thirty years Kittredge had been col- 
lecting material on the subject of witchcraft, and the 
substance of three chapters of his book Witchcraft in 
Old and New England had appeared in articles long 



before 1929. In 1926 he was devoting most of his spare 
moments to the book, and in 1928 he was working on it 
as hard as ever, confessing that it "should have appeared 
a year ago/' Merely verifying the enormous number of 
quotations and references was necessarily a herculean 

Since belief in some sort of witchcraft has been all 
but universal and is still accepted by many persons, the 
subject was worthy of a lifetime study. Misconceptions 
abound: though no American "witch" has been burned, 
who has not heard of the alleged burning of witches in 
Massachusetts or read condemnations of the Pilgrim 
Fathers because of the Salem trials? (Incidentally, the 
trials were really held in Salem; the scene of the hysteria 
of which they were the outcome was Salem Village, now 

Not everybody is aware that numerous attempts at 
sorcery are well authenticated and that many persons 
suspected of being witches have believed themselves 
guilty. Kittredge tried to demonstrate that in the seven- 
teenth century the position of believers in witchcraft 
was "logically and theologically stronger" than that of 
skeptics. The impulse to condemn witches was no more 
cruel than the desire to protect society against murder- 
ers. Public opinion, not the judges or juries who lived 
a hundred years before witch trials ended in Europe, 
was the culprit at Salem. The number of executions in 
America was "inconsiderable" in relation to those in 
Europe. The "repentance and recantation" by those re- 
sponsible for the trials in Massachusetts had no parallel 
elsewhere and was an effective argument for opponents 
of "the witch-dogma" abroad. 

One or two reviewers disagreed with Kittredge's de- 


fense of King James I or of the Puritans, though his 
main points could not be successfully challenged. 4 He 
proved the absurdity of recent theories that English 
witches were carrying on a surviving pagan ritual and 
that English ideas on witchcraft came from abroad dur- 
ing the time of Queen Mary; he showed that they were 
strongly entrenched before that time and that the 
witches* sabbaths which existed on the Continent were 
unknown in the British Isles before the seventeenth 

The book is far-ranging and is not mainly concerned 
with such questions. It is a picturesque and entertaining 
analysis of a dark aspect of human history. Under such 
categories as "Image Magic and the Like," "Madness, 
Curses, and the Elfshot," and "Wind and Weather" ap- 
pears a vast array of "curiosities." Dead men's flesh has 
magic properties; "The Cumberland receipt for birth- 
marks is to stroke the spot with the hands of three heads 
of families who died on the same day" (p. 142). Since 
passages of Scripture are used for spells, a Welsh farmer 
read a chapter to an ailing cow (p. 146). Demons may be 
the motive force behind plagues, storms, and other ills 
that afflict mankind: "Saint Godric, the twelfth-century 
hermit of Finchale, once saw a terrible demon who 
vomited black storm clouds from his mouth and caused 
famine and flood in all the region" (p. 153). A delight- 
fully Yankee rendering of a well-worn theme shows that 
the author did not neglect the lore close at hand: "Still 
celebrated in New Hampshire is the exploit of General 
Jonathan Moulton of Hampton, who sold himself to 
Satan for a bootfull of gold. Satan poured the coins 
down the chimney; but the general had cut off the sole 
of the boot, and the fiend gave up in despair, leaving 



his expected victim safe and very rich" (p. 206). While 
the author could illustrate the use of toads as familiar 
spirits by citing a fourteenth-century chronicle of Fair 
Rosamond, he could also interpret his own memories 
with robust good sense: "A dim shadow of the toad- 
witch haunts the minds of New England boys if they 
retain the superstition (current among them in Cape 
Cod in my youth) that to kill a toad brings on a shower 
of rain; for in this article of faith one recognizes the old 
notion that storms attend the death of witches" (p. 183). 

The author felt constrained to say in his preface that 
he had "no belief in the black art or in the interference 
of demons in the daily life of mortals/' for the Rev. 
Montague Summers, a learned English eccentric, had 
recently published one of several books in which he 
professed such belief, to say nothing of his belief in 
vampires and werewolves. Most of the public may be 
more sensitive to Summers' kind of anachronistic think- 
ing than to the anachronistic viewing of earlier cen- 
turies through twentieth-century glasses. Condescension 
towards the men and women of Salem may seem gross 
self-flattery in an age when advertising men quote 
"scientists" as if they were soothsayers and when books 
on flying saucers are taken seriously. 

Quite aside from the shocking modern delusions 
that may seem benighted to future centuries, the witch- 
craft delusion rested on an assumption natural in a time 
when Holy Writ and general opinion supported belief 
in witchcraft, essentially belief that what happens after 
something happens because of it a fallacy dear to poli- 
ticians who dwell with alarm or pride on events follow- 
ing an election. Despite the pervasiveness of belief in 
witchcraft and its importance in the human story, a 



literary theorist deprecated an English scholar's devot- 
ing one of his chief books to its study. 

On October 25, 1929, Kittredge wrote to a corre- 
spondent: "The reviewers have amused me very much 
by the variety of their judgments. All of them accused 
me of 'erudition' something they either admire or 
loathe, according to their age and antecedents. As to 
enjoyment, the whole gamut is run from enthusiasm to 
Very, very dull/ " In reality most reviews used such 
laudatory phrases as "a monument of scholarship" and 
"the leading authority/' one calling it a book throwing 
"light on the mental history of the whole human race." 5 
But another reviewer had not read carefully enough to 
notice that no witches were ever burned in America, 
intimating that some were burned not far from Har- 
vard College. 6 

The publication of Witchcraft in Old and New Eng- 
land did not diminish Kittredge's interest in collecting 
the materials on witchcraft that he assembled in eight 
large scrapbooks. Letters and clippings poured in. A 
bookseller wrote of a man who wanted a book on 
chastity belts in order to save a wandering wife; an- 
other man, whose bowels wouldn't work properly on 
Sundays and holidays, needed a book to break the spell. 
An Irishman remembered that his nurse had known the 
color of air: "The only people who can see it are the 
pigs, and they know it's red." A New Englander re- 
membered how his grandfather's "fishing boat" had 
been stranded but had been "biled off" by a witch who 
roasted a fowl before high tide: "And the fire burned 
and the pot boiled and the tide rose and by and by the 
witch said, 'There, I have biled you off/ and the vessel 
was afloat." A newspaper article stated that 40 per cent 



of the children in London schools wore the "equivalents 
of witchcraft 'charms.' " The slaying of an eighty-year 
old "witch doctor" in her home was the subject of a 
dispatch in the New York Times.' 1 Reports of other 
"hex murders 1 ' had recently appeared in the papers, 


Though he was never "brawny/* as sometimes er- 
roneously described, Kittredge's health was undeniably 
excellent; during his last fifty years, in fact, he spent 
hardly a day in bed. His strenuous life seems to have 
had no serious effect on his blood pressure, contrary to 
what a student thought who sat next to him one eve- 
ning and saw "a vein in his wrist throbbing like a pump 
or was it an artery? I was so fascinated by the idiosyn- 
crasy that I almost forgot to listen to what he was say- 

At Barnstable Kittredge still enjoyed exploring trips 
in the Cape Cod country. In 1918, when his daughter 
Frances acquired a car, all the Kittredge family became 
fond of motoring. During the following year, it was 
usually Dora, rarely Mrs. Kittredge, who drove the fam- 
ily Ford never Kittredge himself, who once explained 
that if he learned how to drive he might at any time be 
called upon to go over to Hyannis for a cake of yeast. 

His family life, too, was pleasant. His daughter 
Dora, who had taken secretarial training, was his only 
secretary after 1920; her duties were to become more 
arduous during her father's later years of editing. His 
son Henry, with whose rearing and education he had 
taken special pains and whom he had accompanied on 
a trip to Europe after his graduation in 1912, with the 
emphasis on England, Germany, Italy, and Greece, was 



a teacher at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hamp- 
shire, and later vice-rector and rector of that institution, 
as well as the author of several books on Cape Cod. His 
elder daughter Frances had in 1919 married Conrad 
Wesselhoeft, who during World War I, as a captain in 
the Medical Corps, had won the Distinguished Service 
Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and other military honors, 
and who was to engage in medical practice and teach- 
ing, as Clinical Professor at the Harvard Medical School 
and Harvard School of Public Health. The Wesselhoeft 
children were a source of great satisfaction to their 
grandfather. On January 1, 1923, Kittredge wrote, "I 
am now doubly a grandfather, Frances* second son 
being a month old. My elder grandson, who is not quite 
three years of age, gives many signs of an active intel- 
lect. At all events, he is great fun." Kittredge's class- 
mate and friend of later years, Percival Merritt of Bos- 
ton, when he and his wife were spending a few days 
with the Kittredges while they were all in Europe, at 
Aix-les-Bains, composed a small comic book on Billy 
and his Grandpa, of which he had a few copies printed. 
His two grandsons gave Kittredge an opportunity to 
use his pedagogical talents. In the summer of 1925 he 
began to spend an hour each day in helping Billy to 
learn to read. Later the scope of his teaching was wide- 
ened to include English composition, arithmetic, and 
eventually, in the 1930's, Latin. Some friends of Billy 
and his younger brother Conrad sometimes came to 
tease them about "college/ 7 as their period of instruc- 
tion was called. When these friends mimicked animal 
noises outside the summer study at Barnstable, the boys' 
grandfather gave no indication that he heard the noises 
or was aware of the intruders' presence. 



Though Kittredge did not neglect his grandchil- 
dren, one obviously does not become a great scholar 
without devoting much time to one's studies. Mrs. Kitt- 
redge, by nature a friendly and light-hearted person to 
whom people at social gatherings felt themselves ir- 
resistibly drawn, was probably more disposed to give 
time to dinner parties than her husband could have 
been. In furthering her husband's interests, however, 
she took a pleasure hardly to be understood by women 
whose chief aim is self-assertion, and Kittredge, who 
eagerly sought her opinion on something he had writ- 
ten and who had a high regard for her literary taste, 
would have been the first to acknowledge his great in- 
debtedness to her. It was to her that he dedicated his 
most learned work, Witchcraft in Old and New Eng- 

Kittredge's study was near the drawing room, and 
it may be that a few of the women who called upon his 
wife and who did not understand his immersion in his 
work expected him to pay more attention to women 
visitors. Undoubtedly Kittredge's lifelong associations 
at Harvard made him more at ease in male company. 
According to her husband's biographer, Mrs. William 
Allan Neilson, in general a critic of the role of women 
in Cambridge society during the early part of this cen- 
tury, did not think that Kittredge was at his best in 
conversing with her. 8 On the other hand, Mrs. H. N. 
MacCracken, whose husband taught at Yale before he 
became president of Vassar College, remembered Kitt- 
redge's visits with pleasure: 'In those days at Yale 
women were considered inferior in intellect. But Mr. 
Kittredge included me in his conversation, took interest 
in our children [he was delighted upon finding that one 



of them had a name from the ballads, Maisry], and made 
us all feel like human beings/' A friend recalled, too, 
that at a party given for a visiting scholar from England 
Kittredge had made a special point of conversing at 
length with a girl who had been lamed by paralysis. 

In 1920 Kittredge was elected president of a club 
which had been a favorite ever since he became a mem- 
ber ten years before, the Club of Odd Volumes. It met 
once a month to listen to a speaker, and when his turn 
came he spoke on subjects like New England alchemists, 
vampires, or books on witchcraft. But the club also met 
at luncheons on Saturdays, and these Kittredge fre- 
quently attended. So his fellow-members, who like 
him appreciated good food and conversation, long re- 
membered his wit and savoir-faire, 9 as well as his strik- 
ing appearance as he sat low in his chair, in his gray 
suit, his white beard harmonizing with the rich table- 

An extraordinary little humorous volume, The Bake 
at Barnstable, commemorates a clam-bake, given by Ad- 
miral Francis T. Bowles at his beach and on his boat- 
house porch, which was attended by several members of 
the Club of Odd Volumes. Humorous effects owe much 
to the pictures, with titles often happily incongruous, 
and to the phrasing. The editor of the volume and the 
sponsoring committee concealed their identities, and 
none assumed any responsibility for the contents. A 
member of the Club recalled that Kittredge mysterious- 
ly appeared twice in a picture of the group. After the 
camera had caught his image at one side, he had wag- 
gishly moved behind the other men and stood ready at 
a different end of the group when the last pan of the 
exposure was being made. 



Appropriately enough, it was at the headquarters of 
the Club of Odd Volumes on June 28, 1928, that a din- 
ner was given for Kittredge by colleagues and friends, 
in honor of his forty years of teaching. Among the guests 
were J. M. Manly of Chicago, J. L. Lowes, J. S. P. Tat- 
lock, F. N. Robinson, F. J. Foakes-Jackson, the English 
theologian, President Lowell, and Oliver Elton, the 
eminent critic and scholar from England, then a visit- 
ing professor. The portrait of Kittredge by Charles 
Hopkinson, commissioned by private subscription, was 
presented to Harvard University and accepted by Presi- 
dent Lowell. The portrait is Jove in full panoply, con- 
veying the force of a personality. Kittredge himself was 
pleased with it. Since the fingers of one hand are ex- 
tended in a characteristic position, the legend grew up 
that the painter had originally shown Kittredge with a 
cigar and had later painted it out.* 

The advent of prohibition had some years previous- 
ly brought with it an occasion for "the first dry dinner 
at which I ever presided" a dinner given in honor of 
E. S. Sheldon when his retirement was imminent, and 
Kittredge had been pleasantly surprised that " 'a good 
time was enjoyed by all/ " Though he remained tem- 
perate in his eating and drinking, in spite of the changes 
brought about by prohibition, many stories are told of 
his conviviality. When his wife confessed that she didn't 
like cocktails because they made her dizzy, Kittredge 
commented, "That's why I like *em." His son-in-law, 
Dr. Conrad Wesselhoeft, once prepared as a remedy 
for Kittredge's cough a medicinal mixture of rum, lem- 

* The Hopkinson portrait now hangs above the fireplace, extending 
from the mantel to the ceiling, in the Junior Common Room of 
Leverett House. 



on juice, and sugar. Though Kittredge was at first reluc- 
tant to take anything for an ailment which he refused to 
recognize in his students, he later confessed to his physi- 
cian that he would like some more of "that cough medi- 
cine/' One of Kittredge's friends who observed him at 
parties was startled and puzzled by Kittredge's celerity 
in swallowing cocktails, almost at one gulp. It may be 
rash to suggest that some light may possibly be shed on 
this rather hazardous practice by one of Kittredge's 
notes on a passage in Shakespeare: "When you breathe 
in your watering. When you stop and take breath in 
your drinking. In drinking with a friend one was ex- 
pected to drain his glass or tankard, in one draught. 
Watering was a slang word for 'drinking/ " 10 


Kittredge's success as a lecturer led to his being 
twice appointed to deliver the Dowse Lectures. In his 
will Thomas Dowse had given a sum to be held in trust 
for the city of Cambridge. Choice of lecturer and sub- 
ject was left to the trustees of the Dowse Institute, who 
had sponsored lectures by Emerson, Beecher, Holmes, 
Wendell Phillips, and others. In the last part of Janu- 
ary, 1923, Kittredge delivered lectures on five of Shake- 
speare's tragedies, and in the early spring of 1927 three 
on "The Appreciation of Shakespeare/' 

The Dowse Lectures, like the Lowell Lectures, con- 
tributed to his reputation as a lecturer, which continued 
to grow. Though he had visited Europe and especially 
England many times before, Kittredge's most trium- 
phant journey, this time as a lecturer and a scholar who 
had achieved world-wide recognition, came in 1932. To 
those familiar with modern academic life, with its fre- 



quent leaves of absence, traveling fellowships, and re- 
search grants, the rarity with which Kittredge left Cam- 
bridge during the school year may seem surprising. The 
President and Fellows of Harvard granted him permis- 
sion to be away from April 16 to June 6, 1932, in order to 
give the Northcliffe Lectures on Shakespeare at Univer- 
sity College, London. For many years a Corresponding 
Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow 
of the Royal Society of Literature, he had known since 
the spring of 1931 that it was the wish of Oxford Uni- 
versity to confer upon him an honorary degree, this 
information having reached him indirectly through his 
friend Charles J. Sisson, who had been authorized to 
convey the invitation by George Gordon, President of 
Magdalen College; he was not officially informed till 
nearly a year later of the action of the Hebdomadal 
Council. During Sisson's period as visiting professor at 
Harvard in the winter of 1928-29, he and Kittredge had 
often been together in the Treasure Room in Widener 
Library and had become warm friends, sharing, among 
other interests, an expertness in Shakespeare and a taste 
for mystery stories. Sisson, after 1928 Lord Northcliffe 
Professor of Modern English Literature at University 
College, London, had been eager to induce him to come 
to England. 

Before and during his stay there, in company with 
Mrs. Kittredge and their daughter Dora, he received 
abundant courtesies. The provost and staff of Univer- 
sity College invited him to consider himself "an honor- 
ary member of their Common Rooms/' The Authors' 
Club and the English-Speaking Union of the British 
Empire also urged him to consider himself an honorary 
member during his visit in London. The Harvard Club 



of London arranged a dinner for him. He had not been 
long in his quarters at Almond's Hotel before learning 
that Oxford would confer the D. Litt. degree honoris 
causa on May 17. 

This honor came in the midst of his six public lec- 
tures given in the Great Hall (demolished by bombs 
during World War II) at University College, on Shake- 
speare's Macbeth (May 2), Julius Caesar (May 5), Othel- 
lo (May 9), King Lear (May 12), and Hamlet (May 19 
and 23). J. W. Mackail was in the chair at the first lec- 
ture, though the speaker was introduced by Sisson. Kitt- 
redge also delivered a lecture on The Tempest on May 
13 at Conway Hall, under the auspices of the English 
Association, of which he had been a vice-president for 
some years, his friend Oliver Elton coming up from 
Oxford to preside. Enthusiastic audiences, close to a 
thousand people at each lecture, crowded the hall to 
hear the lectures, which were scheduled at 5:30 p. M., 
and extended reports of them appeared in The Times 
of London. 

In honor of the visitor there were many tea parties 
and dinners, attended by academic, social, and literary 
celebrities, but the climax of Kittredge's London visit 
was undoubtedly the luncheon given by the Pilgrims of 
Great Britain in his honor at the Hotel Victoria, North- 
umberland Avenue, on May 10. H. R. H. the Duke of 
Connaught presided over the luncheon. Among the 
guests were the Earl of Derby, Sir Frederick Kenyon, 
Sir Gilbert Parker, W. R. Halliday, Principal of King's 
College, London, and Professors R. W. Chambers, C. J. 
Sisson, O. T. Onions, J. Dover Wilson, and John M. 
Manly, Kittredge's friend from the University of Chi- 
cago. In the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, 



unable to attend because of a diocesan conference, a 
toast was offered by Professor Ernest de Selincourt, who 
paid tribute to Kittredge's accomplishments as a scholar 
and his influence in America, his wisdom in avoiding 
both the superficialities often connected with "literary 
appreciation" and the aridity often associated with "re- 
search/' his combining research with "the illumination 
of great literature": "He has based his appreciation on 
profound knowledge, and his knowledge has given 
depth and sanity to his appreciation. ... He is indeed 
a great exemplar of the scholar." Sir Archibald Flower's 
remarks included this tribute: "No students ever went 
to sleep at one of his lectures. (Laughter.) He instilled 
into them a holy fear; he instilled into them a wonder- 
ful respect for learning; but at the same time he in- 
stilled into their hearts not only respect, but admira- 
tion, not only admiration but affection. (Hear, hear.) 

"If our guest of to-day had lived in the spacious days 
of Queen Elizabeth, I am perfectly certain that William 
Shakespeare would have sought him out and would 
have looked upon him as a human, congenial, a very 
humorous and very delightful companion. Now I can- 
not, as a Stratfordian, pay him any greater compliment 
than that. . . ." 

Kittredge's brief reply began with a disclaimer that 
will seem characteristic of the man: 

Your Royal Highness, my Lords and Gentlemen: I have 
been taking notes while these various eloquent speeches 
have been delivered. ... I do not recognize myself in many 
of the phrases, though I have been very much pleased by the 
phrases which have been used to describe me. This is not 
because professors are modest, which was one of the points 
made by one of the two eloquent gentlemen who proposed 


Portrait (1932) by the English painter Frank E. Beresfcrd (the Hall 
Studio, London), by whose permission it is here reproduced 

Photograph by Bachrach, 1934 


my health. It took two of them to propose my health, and 
yet I assure you that I am, in the slang language of my 
country, pretty husky, which means pretty strong and vigor- 
ous, in spite of my gray hair. I did not recognize myself in 
many of the complimentary phrases used, but not being 
used to them, I was glad to accept them all. (Laughter.) For 
this time only, for this one appearance, I will stand before 
you histrionically as all that I have been described some- 
thing a little more than human but not quite divine. 

After referring to his own English ancestry, his af- 
fection for England, and the importance for the world 
of the understanding between England and America 
which the Pilgrims aimed at, an understanding which 
would appear hopeful to optimists, Kittredge told a 
favorite story, illustrating the meaning of pessimist: 

... at Barnstable my boy had a disagreeable experience 
and came back and sat down. I said: "What is the matter, 
Henry? You look tired/' He said: "I have had a bad day, 
the boat got aground" and so on, but he added, cheering 
up, "I had one good line, I fell in with so-and-so" that is a 
local humorist, a small farmer who does not know how 
funny he is, an unconscious humorist. He gave the most 
perfect example of a pessimist that has ever been heard or 
imagined. This chap was looking at a small brood of 
chickens, and my son came alongside and he said: "Well, 
Thatcher" that was his Christian name "that is a pretty 
good-looking brood of chickens you have got there." Where- 
upon Thatcher said solemnly and this is American English 
"I hatched out six chickens, and by God! they all died on 
me but them five." (Laughter.) 11 

Vanquished by the spell of the Kittredge personali- 
ty, one of the distinguished guests retracted, in a play- 
fully formal document, a phrase which he had used in a 



review. 12 The Pilgrims' luncheon Kittredge naturally 
regarded as a high point of his career. On Friday, May 
13, in the morning coat and top hat expected on such 
occasions, he had an audience with the Prince of Wales 
afterwards Edward VIII and now Duke of Windsor. 
The Prince was unavoidably late and apologized pro- 
fusely. To more than one person Kittredge commented 
on the courtesy of the Prince, who impressed him as a 
young man who had shown the deference usually shown 
to an older man. 13 

On May 17 Oxford University awarded Kittredge 
the honorary doctorate of literature, the Vice-Chan- 
cellor, the Rev. Dr. F. Homes Dudden, the Master of 
Pembroke, presiding. The public orator, Dr. A. B. 
Poynton, spoke in Latin of Kittredge's directing English 
studies at Harvard with learning, industry, and kind- 
ness, of his carrying on studies in early English litera- 
ture too numerous to recount. He had established the 
identity of Sir Thomas Malory. The Wife of Bath and 
the Oxford clerk ("Uxor ilia Bathoniensis" and "Cleri- 
cus ille Oxenfordiae"} were grateful for his labors. The 
orator also mentioned the Study of Gawain and the 
Green Knight. In conferring the degree, the Vice-Chan- 
cellor addressed Kittredge as "vir eruditissime, studiis 
literarum Anglicarum deditissime., operum multorum 
auctor impigerrime, qui veteranus ipse cum summa 
peritia et benevolentia tironibus opitularis." 

F. J. Foakes-Jackson proposed Kittredge as an Hon- 
orary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and the 
Master and Fellows approved of giving him this honor 
("the highest distinction we can bestow" a distinction 
shared by few, these few including Dean Inge of St. 
Paul's, the editor of the Edinburgh Review, and a judge 



of England's highest court). He spent a pleasant week 
in the last part of May and early June at Cambridge. 14 
A local publication noted that he found in the Master 
of Jesus (Arthur Gray), during a tea, "sufficient cause 
for difference of opinion to make both experts more 
than ever appreciative of one another." 

During his sojourn in England the Kittredges visited 
the C. J. Sissons at Lyminster, near Arundel, where in 
the company of their host they were one day invited to 
see Arundel Castle. Professor Sisson induced Kittredge 
to sit for a portrait by Sisson's friend, the painter Frank 
Beresford, who pronounced his subject "the most paint- 
able man he had ever seen/' Sisson also later asked Mrs. 
Kittredge for a photograph of Kittredge for a picture 
gallery planned for the English students' workroom in 
University College. The gallery was to contain portraits 
of scholars in English, both living and dead e.g., Elton, 
Saintsbury, Grierson, Ker, Furnivall, Henry Morley. 

In a letter dated the first of June, President Lowell 
of Harvard offered congratulations, though he noted 
that it was time for the rounding up of books: Kittredge 
still had from the Library a book by the Marquise du 
Pin. This request for a library book, sent by President 
Lowell (did someone of lesser authority not want to 
send it, or was President Lowell following routine?), 
may have brought Kittredge down to earth. Still his 
friend Sisson was to use a significant phrase, of course 
not to be construed too solemnly, regarding Kittredge's 
experience in England in reality public recognition 
there was a culmination of many years' scholarly labor 
"the apotheosis of Kittredge/' 15 


Homage to Shakespeare 

As THE YEARS passed, Kittredge had come to seem less 
like a man than an enduring institution. His steps were 
less vigorous now, his hair had become thinner, but his 
intellect had not discernibly lost any of its power. He 
was still respected as perhaps only "Mr. Kittredge" was. 
Once when his grades were a little late, the College 
Office hesitated to call him; instead somebody called his 
assistant in English 2, who had the duty of calling Kitt- 
redge. 1 

Kittredge was less active in the affairs of the De- 
partment of English than formerly. There is no evi- 
dence that he opposed, or had reason to oppose, any of 
the measures it adopted. Some of the young philologists 
who attended Ph. D. examinations noted that Kittredge 
occasionally asked some theoretical linguistic questions 
that in the twentieth century should not have been 
asked in just that way, in view of changes in linguistic 
theory, some of which Kittredge had evidently not 
bothered to look up. Were they as important as the 
young philologists may have thought? Kittredge had 
written in 1926 that the object of the examinations was 
"to test not merely the candidate's knowledge of literary 
history, but to find how intimate his personal contact 
with literature had been; also to test his critical faculty 
as well as his knowledge/' 2 

In 1933-34 a satisfactory knowledge of Latin and 
Greek had been introduced as one of the options for 
graduate students, this being allowed as a substitute for 



required "philological courses" such as Gothic and 
Old French. Probably Kittredge was among those who 
hoped that the possible substitution would encourage 
students to acquire a satisfactory knowledge of the clas- 
sics. Few elected the option. It was not until after Kitt- 
redge's retirement that the linguistic requirements for 
the Ph. D. degree in English were radically modified. 

Kittredge's birthdays were observed in Cambridge 
long after he had reached an age when most people re- 
tired. On his seventy-fifth birthday, February 28, 1935, 
for example, he arrived at Radcliffe to find that his class 
had brought him a bouquet of seventy-five roses. He 
was deeply touched, and indicated his inability to ex- 
press his appreciation in words: "If it would help, I'd 
declare a holiday. And I do hereby declare a holiday." 
Later he referred to the roses: "Now if only some of 
you will tell me how to get them home without looking 
like a bridegroom/* 3 Though they may have been dif- 
ficult to take home, roses seemed to him the right gift. 
When W. W. Goodwin reached his eightieth year, Kitt- 
redge had sent roses to his former teacher of Greek. 
They would have seemed more appropriate, too, be- 
cause another former teacher, Francis James Child, had 
been a lover of roses. Kittredge's grandchildren remem- 
bered that they had often observed in their grand- 
mother's parlor a vase containing roses or other flowers 
presented by their grandfather, 

A group of Harvard graduate students also cele- 
brated Kittredge's seventy-fifth birthday, with a dinner 
given in his honor. One of them remembered his social 
gaiety on this occasion: 

By the middle of the evening he was in excellent form, 
telling good stories one after another with his usual sense 



of economy, point, and theater. Someone proposed that a 
concert of Elizabethan music was in order; so back to Cam- 
bridge two of us drove to pick up scores and a recorder. 
When we returned, he posted himself in a chair near the 
piano, and as the strains of Shakespearean songs began to 
echo through the smoke-murked room, he beat time with his 
pince-nez, swinging it so vigorously that it almost flew from 
the cord. The hoarseness of a cold and much talk did not 
keep him from chiming in lustily when the duet played 
"Green Sleeves/' which was one of his favorite tunes. I like 
best to remember how he looked as he stood framed by the 
doorway when he was about to leave. "Goodnight, gentle- 
men. Goodnight to you all/' For a moment we thought he 
might lower his guard and say something sentimental, but 
his curtain line was simply: "This has been a very happy 
occasion." And he meant it. 4 

It was not unusual for students to be impressed with 
Kittredge's qualities as a dinner companion, for another 
former student has written: "It will sound priggishly 
literary, no doubt, but it is nevertheless true, to say that 
we young fellows felt we were entertaining Socrates, 
Lucian, the Nun's Priest, Montaigne, Falstaff, Dr. John- 
son and Mark Twain with a glimpse or two of Autoly- 
cus." 5 


Kittredge himself had looked forward to serving 
fifty years, the length of time his master Child had 
served. The initiative had not, therefore, come from 
him when he laconically announced his retirement. 
The Boston Transcript for February 5, 1936, stated that 
Kittredge had refused to qualify his seven-word an- 
nouncement, "I am going to retire September first." 
The Boston Herald for the next day quoted one Har- 



vard man as saying of the retirement, "Well, President 
Conant ought to take that as a personal affront," but 
nobody reported that James B. Conant, President Low- 
ell's successor in 1933, had shown himself in sympathy 
with the lingering of elderly professors, or had been at 
all embarrassed by Kittredge's retiring. 

Kittredge's coming retirement was the subject of 
much comment. "He should have waited till '38," said 
an editorial in the New York Times, "but, like certain 
verbs, he is strong and irregular/' An article in the same 
issue was also a tribute to the man whose mind, as the 
writer of the editorial remembered, President Mac- 
Cracken of Vassar College had called "eager, insatiable, 
omnifarious, omnilegent." 6 The Harvard Crimson gave 
the news front-page headlines and commented: " 'Kitty' 
is perhaps the greatest example of the benevolently ec- 
centric scholar whose type has made Harvard famous. 
Of all the great names of the past half century, James 
and Miinsterberg, Copeland and Taussig, Eliot and 
Lowell, none shines brighter in the memories of his 
students, none has a greater reputation in his field of 
endeavor/' 7 

W. T. Brewster of Columbia University told of a 
small girl's asking, "Who is this Kitty that the papers 
are talking about giving a farewell lecture?" "Professor 
Kittredge, my child/' her father answered, "is a very 
great teacher and scholar. He taught Shakespeare/' 
"Gee," said the little girl, "he must be old." 

But Kittredge's friends knew that he remained vig- 
orous and young in spirit. Some years previously Oliver 
Elton, the English scholar and critic then already in re- 
tirement, after mentioning in a letter to Kittredge his 
translations from Russian, had written: "I am trying 



too to smatter in Polish to show that at 72 one is not 
too senescent to face a new tongue (& there is good 
poetry in it). You, I am sure, are sempervirescent" 

Auditors at the last lecture in the Shakespeare class 
were too numerous for the lecture-room in Harvard 
Hall. Some stood outside, and some climbed up and 
looked in the windows. To obtain quiet at the begin- 
ning, the lecturer had to say, "Hold your peaces!" and 
to soften the exclamation by explaining the idiomatic 
Elizabethan plural. As a whole, the hour passed like 
thousands preceding it. After the tremendous applause 
at the end, the lecturer stood, hat in hand, waving, 
motioned as if he wished the aisle cleared, and left 
without reference to the occasion. 

The applause given by alumni to Kittredge at the 
Harvard Tercentenary as the faculty members marched 
down the aisle in the open-air theater surpassed in vol- 
ume that given to all others, whether faculty or guests. 8 
The Tercentenary issue of the Lampoon contained a 
verse tribute "to the living presence and deathless in- 
fluence of George Lyman Kittredge, Charles Town- 
send Copeland, and Bliss Perry/' having as its refrain, 
"Kitty and Copey and Bliss." Robert Hillyer published 
in the Atlantic Monthly "A Letter to Charles Town- 
send Copeland," containing a reference to Kittredge's 
retirement. More prosaic but representative of the 
sentiments of many was a statement in the Harvard 
Alumni Bulletin: 

There are many who cannot imagine Shakspere being 
taught by anyone else than Mr. Kittredge. There is no 
longer anyone constantly to remind us, as we need to be re- 
minded, that a pedant is most truly defined as a man whose 
terminology differs from one's own, that the ancients never 



looked upon themselves as ancients, that human nature re- 
mains constant, that in our own way we are as credulous as 
our ancestors. Classes may now breathe more easily: Mr. 
Kittredge's war against slovenly thinking and general lazi- 
ness is over. But undergraduates at Harvard no longer find 
each day an adventure perilous and golden. A great tradi- 
tion has passed out of the Yard. 9 

Owen Wister, his classmate, too, had written to Kitt- 
redge to send "a word of melancholy . . . over the news 
that you'll be found no longer up there in Harvard 
Hall, knocking young men's heads together. Flatly and 
fulsomely, I've always admired and looked up to you; 
loved the way you conducted English 2; and though I'm 
so far off, I feel lonesome. 

"There'll be no more of it; not like that. Somebody 
may know as much as you do some day. But our genera- 
tion was in time to catch the spell of Horace and Ho- 
mer, and something of the spirit of those who lived and 
fought through the Civil War. Whatever they catch 
nowadays, it isn't that/' 

Many others felt that an epoch had ended. 


Long before his retirement Kittredge had reached a 
wide public in his lectures on Shakespeare. In 1933 
President Lowell had invited him to deliver another set 
of Lowell Lectures. At the conclusion of the series in 
the last part of January, 1934, an average of more than 
a thousand persons had attended the lectures during 
eight days a record attendance for some twenty years. 10 
The concluding lecture dealt with Shakespeare him- 
self and with the flimsy basis for several legends about 
him. Kittredge did not seriously discuss the Baconian 



theory but, following methods used by some makers of 
ciphers, composed several anagrams from the letters in 
the first stage-direction in Hamlet, added to the play 
long after Shakespeare was dead anagrams attributing 
Shakespeare's work to Bacon, to the Earl of Derby, and 
to the Earl of Oxford, who were assumed by various 
persons (but never by close students of Elizabethan 
literature) to have written it. Though there are stories 
of how at various times Kittredge dealt with wild 
theories of authorship by showing, for instances, that 
the dinner menu was the work of a certain author, he 
was usually content to dismiss the Baconians by saying 
that he would accept Bacon's authorship of Shakespeare 
if it could be proved that somebody else wrote the 
works of Bacon. 

Kittredge did not believe that either the sonnets or 
the plays can safely be interpreted as revelations of 
Shakespeare's personal life. On April 23, 1936, he gave 
a radio talk on "The Man Shakespeare," broadcast 
under the auspices of the Shakespeare Association of 
America. 11 He gave other public lectures in 1936, as at 
Northwestern University and the University of Chica- 
go, where on November 24 he delivered the William 
Vaughn Moody Lecture. In late April he had given at 
Harvard the Ingersoll Lecture, "The Old Teutonic 
Idea of the Future Life/' which contrasts the distinc- 
tion between the belief, common to the Teutonic races, 
in Hel as a destination of the dead, and the belief in 
Valhalla, peculiar to the Scandinavians, as a paradise of 
warriors chosen by Odin. The Germanic races' belief 
in the destruction of the world by fire and the conflict 
between the hosts of the dead, coming from Hel, and 
the gods seems primitive, since many nations believe 



that the dead can be malignant. The evidence concern- 
ing such beliefs comes, of course, from Scandinavian 
literature, but the popular form of Scandinavian reli- 
gion included nothing like the Christian belief in 
Heaven and Hell. 

On November 26, 1937, Kittredge spoke before the 
Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary 
Schools and Affiliated Associations at Atlantic City, on 
"A Teacher's Memories and Impressions: Yankee No- 
tions of a Yankee Schoolmaster." It was well to remind 
his auditors that there is no such thing as the juvenile 
mind (but only juvenile minds) and of the dangers of 
taking intelligence tests too seriously. Incidentally, he 
suggested for their consideration some choices for ans- 
wers to the question "Are cats useful?" "Is is because 
they catch mice? (2) Is is because they fight with dogs? 
(3) Is it because they teach you to climb trees? (4) Is it 
because they have nine lives?" Each of these answers 
would be defensible, "either seriously or paradoxically," 
and a boy giving the fourth might or might not be 
brighter than one giving the first. One kept awake at 
night by cats might well answer, "Cats are not useful," 

The main part of his shrewdly humorous lecture, 
devoted to defending teachers from the supposition that 
they know little of human nature and from other ir- 
responsible charges, must have heartened many. He 
quoted Dr. Johnson: "The critic who hazards little- 
proceeds with vehemence, impetuosity, and fearless- 
ness." A poet thought of school as a place where the 
young idea is taught how to shoot, and there were alum- 
ni whose attitude reminded Kittredge of the words of 
"the absentee landlord to his resident steward: 'Be so 
good as to inform the tenants that no threats to shoot 



you will terrify me in the least/ " Some years before 
Kittredge had composed for a meeting of Phi Beta Kap- 
pa some humorous verses, "Respectfully Dedicated to 
the Critical Alumnus/' for a dinner arranged (Decem- 
ber 5, 1931) in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of 
the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Several lines 
of the verses which he now read differ from the earlier 

When your steps to Cambridge track, 

Whack the Fac! 
Do not pat them on the back: 
Tell them all the things they lack! 

Whack! whack! whack! 
That's the treatment for the Fac. 

Can't you please your Uncle Zack? 

Blame the Fac. 

Have you smoked too much tabac? 
Does your girl give you the sack? 

Give 'em blazes! They're the Fac! 

Is your Pegasus a hack? 

Cuss the Fac! 

For the law have you no knack? 
You are no Tiberius Gracch? 

Who's responsible? The Fac! 

* The earlier text appeared in the American Scholar (I [1932], 72), 
by whose permission some varying lines are cited here: "Is your eldest 
son a jack?" "Have your fortunes gone to wrack?" "Is your specialist a 
quack?" "What? No aces in the packl" It was, moreover, "your wits" 
(not "moral fibres") that "begin to crack." The typescript reading 
"tabac" could be an oversight for "tobac," though tabac is French 
for "tobacco." 



If your moral fibres crack, 

Smack the Fac! 
If your mental vision's black, 
If you can't write the vernac, 

Whack! whack! whack! 
Don't forget to whack the Fac! 

Unreasonable things are expected of the teacher 
(whose occupation, as Kittredge once wrote to a corre- 
spondent, "involves a constant strain on the nerves'*): 

One day years ago exhilarated by a long conversation 
with the president of a small college who wanted to engage 
an instructor and told me at length what he needed and 
what he was prepared to pay, I perpetrated an advertisement 
the only one I ever wrote: 

"Wanted an expert chauffeur. Must be an excellent 
mechanic and competent to mend watches and clocks and 
to upholster old furniture. Will be expected to act as butler 
on special occasions and now and then to impersonate his 
employer and to entertain the neighbors at tea. Some 
knowledge of flute, trombone, and kettle-drum is indispens- 
ably necessary, also a cultivated voice and the ability to 
play a good game of tennis and mend lace. Will be expected 
to act as guide in the Adirondacks and dragoman in the 
Orient. Must be a poet and a Christian gentleman. Salary 
$600 a year (without board or lodging) and no extras." 

In 1937 audiences at such places as the New York 
State College for Teachers at Albany, Duke University, 
Wellesley, the College of William and Mary, Goucher, 
Bryn Mawr, and the Folger Shakespeare Library in 
Washington heard Kittredge speak, usually on "Shake- 
speare's Villains" or "Shakespeare and the Critics/' The 
latter was his subject when he spoke on December 29, 
1937, at Indianapolis before a joint meeting of Phi Beta 



Kappa and the American Association for the Advance- 
ment of Science. 

In the following year Kittredge appeared before 
audiences at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sci- 
ences, Bucknell University, the University of Rochester, 
and at Lawrence, Massachusetts, among others, digress- 
ing from his main topic in February to discuss witch- 
craft at a meeting of the New England Historic and 
Genealogical Society. In June he spoke at the sixtieth 
commencement of Smith College, of which his friend 
William Allan Neilson was still president. During a 
visit to New Haven, where he lectured at Yale Univer- 
sity more than once, he was photographed with William 
Lyon Phelps, and it was as "fabulous Kitty, Harvard's 
great Shakespearean" that his picture appeared in Life 
on December 5. 


In 1936 Kittredge's complete edition of the plays of 
Shakespeare in one volume had been published. He was 
undeniably pleased when his friend C. H. Thurber of 
Ginn and Company gave a free copy to each member of 
the Club of Odd Volumes. The book was widely hailed 
for its careful text, pithy introductions, and excellent 
glossary. 12 In 1939, after the texts of several plays had 
begun to appear separately, with full annotations, the 
Harvard Alumni Bulletin commented that Kittredge 
had "established himself in a new and world-wide pro- 
fessorship to which no one can add the word emeritus." 

Extant correspondence indicates that Kittredge had 
thought of editing Shakespeare in the later 1890's and 
that for a few years, before Manly gracefully withdrew 
from the project, he had considered sharing it with 



John M. Manly. A passage in a letter from Otto Jesper- 
sen, the Scandinavian linguistic scholar, in 1912 indi- 
cates that Mrs. Kittredge was a constant source of en- 
couragement in Shakespearian scholarship. "Your de- 
lightful paper on Chaucer and marriage. . . ," Jespersen 
writes, "reminds me of a promise I once gave Mrs. Kitt- 
redge and which I have not kept: to write a post card to 
you every week to tell you not to forget the book on 
Shakespeare. Now I am longing for two books from you, 
one on Chaucer and one on Shakespeare. ... Do write 
them. That's a good boy!" Earlier, the Rev. George 
Gordon, the minister of the Old South Church, jested 
that the Devil might get Kittredge if he did not publish 
his Lowell lectures on Shakespeare. Kittredge also re- 
sisted a publisher's attempt to persuade him to publish 
lectures which read better to the ear than to the eye. He 
could have given a Shakespearian phrase a new setting: 
"Ripeness is all." On no occasion did he yield to a com- 
mon twentieth-century temptation and publish some- 
thing immature. 

But through the students who absorbed and trans- 
mitted his teaching, Kittredge's criticism of Shakespeare 
was widely disseminated orally long before any of it was 
printed. He came to be recognized as the leading Ameri- 
can Shakespeare scholar. Signs of such recognition are 
various. A manufacturer asked his advice on choosing 
Shakespeare texts to illustrate a calendar (among his 
choices: Rosalind and Orlando in the forest; Puck in 
the woods; Hamlet and the ghost on the ramparts; the 
King and others before the marble statue in The Win- 
ter's Tale; Beatrice and Benedick). One of the perform- 
ers wrote him of radio broadcasts that incorporated 
much of the interpretation of the plays in English 2. 



An article in the New Yorker, pointing out that a well- 
known actor, Monty Woolley, got from Kittredge the 
inspiration for his beard, incidentally observed that in 
English 2 Woolley had heard Shakespeare "expounded 
better than he has ever been expounded before, or ever 
will be again, probably/' 13 The article echoed the be- 
lief of many students and indeed that of a Lampoon 
cartoonist who showed the Bard of Avon himself in a 
session of English 2, busily taking notes on what he had 
really meant. 14 

What does Shakespeare mean? Deprecating the odi- 
um philologicum as far worse than the odium theolog- 
icum, Kittredge acknowledged that differences of opin- 
ion are legitimate but insisted that, regardless of varying 
interpretations, Shakespeare does have an objective 
meaning. In his Shakspere, which he is said to have con- 
sidered his masterpiece, his Tercentenary Lecture de- 
livered in Sanders Theatre on April 23, 1916 here, 
though not in his later texts, Kittredge uses the spelling 
preferred by Child and the New Shakspere Society he 
set forth some common-sense principles of interpreta- 

In harmony with his regard for common sense, he 
began with a respectful reference to Dr. Johnson an 
editor often quoted in his later editions of the plays, 
though Kittredge not infrequently disagreed with Dr. 
Johnson, too. He once remarked to a class that common 
sense can solve most Shakespearian problems. "No one 
except scholars worries about the seacoast of Bohe- 
mia." Later he wrote: "But it is very prosy to equate 
Shakespeare's Bohemia with any actual Bohemia. Had 
Bohemia a seacoast? Yes. When? At some indeterminate 
time B. C., when Leontes was king of Sicilia that Leon- 


Photograph by Bachrach, 1934* 

*As shown by Bachrach's records, the date in the right corner is for 
a duplicate print rather than for the original photograph. 

G.L.K, with William Lyon Phelps 
Photograph by William Vandivert for Life, 1938 


tes who married a daughter of the Emperor of Russia 
and was a boyhood friend of Polixenes, King of Bo- 
hemia/* 15 To confuse stage time with actual time is 
another instance of pedantry; Shakespeare "measured 
time imaginatively, not by months or years." Common 
sense, too, would dispose of the notion that The Mer- 
chant of Venice is anti-Semitic: "Shakespeare was not 
attacking the Jewish people when he gave Shylock the 
villain's role. If so, he was attacking the Moors in Titus 
Andronicus, the Spaniards in Much Ado, the Italians in 
Cymbeline, the Viennese in Measure for Measure, the 
Danes in Hamlet, the Britons in King Lear, the Scots 
in Macbeth, and the English in Richard the Third." 16 
Common sense does not neglect facts. Of a commentator's 
statement that Shakespeare "put his heroine [Rosalind 
in As You Like It] into such a position that she could, 
without revealing her own secret, probe the heart of 
her lover to the very bottom. . . ," Kittredge remarks, 
"This amiable and eloquent observation is typical of 
many that have been mistakenly made upon details of 
Shakespeare's plots. The 'device' is not Shakespeare's, 
but Lodge's/' 17 

Sober judgment militated against accepting views 
that were merely fashionable, making for conservatism 
in the treatment of Shakespeare's text. Kittredge did 
not expunge as non-Shakespearian whatever did not ap- 
peal to the critic's literary sense. "Disintegrators, in- 
deed," A. C. Sprague remarks, "fared harshly at his 
hands long before any general reaction had set in 
against their ways." 18 Of the Chorus at the beginning 
of Act IV of The Winter's Tale, as Kittredge points out, 
the suspicion that it is the work of an interpolator has 
no foundation; since there are no printed programs, 



somebody must supply information. "Father Time 
meets the exigency with admirable precision. He tells 
us that sixteen years have elapsed; that Leontes is a 
penitent hermit. . . . And how is Father Time to speak? 
Shall it be in Shakespeare's best style with the tragic 
passion of Lear, the philosophy of Hamlet, the gaiety of 
Beatrice. . . ? Of course not. He should speak in charac- 
ter. And that is precisely how he does speak as old 
Father Time a doddering, toothless ancient, halting 
but fluent, senile but self-assured, ridiculous but trium- 
phant. His verse, his dialect, his jests, his truisms, all are 
in character. The stumbling emptiness of which the 
critics complain are Time's own. If the speech were 
better, it would not be so good." 19 

Another fashion of which Kittredge perceived the 
absurdities was the uncritical search for reflections of 
history in Shakespeare. A remarkable tour de force satir- 
izing the ways of the topical interpreters was his New 
Light on Romeo and Juliet, a paper delivered before 
the Modern Language Conference, an organization of 
graduate students at Harvard, and later, in 1933, at the 
Club of Odd Volumes, which was responsible for its 
being printed as a tribute to its author. The solemn 
argument that Shakespeare's romance was based on the 
Overbury murder case is worked out in ingenious de- 
tail, the only drawback to acceptance of the theory being 
simple enough, that the quarto of Romeo and Juliet was 
published in 1597, whereas Sir Thomas Overbury died 
in the Tower in 1613. 

The sensible reader of Shakespeare does not create 
mysteries. Being a dramatist, Shakespeare himself knew 
that to be understood one must leave no doubt of one's 
purposes. Kittredge was fond of citing Captain Mayne 



Reid, who explained that the dramatist should have a 
scene in which his characters discuss what is going to 
happen, a scene in which it happens, and finally a scene 
in which the characters discuss what has happened. At 
the end of this third scene some of the auditors would 
get the point. Shakespeare's own practice of having his 
characters announce their intentions is lost on those 
who have attempted to identify the third murderer as 
Lady Macbeth or who have even doubted Hamlet's 

To understand Shakespeare, said Kittredge in his 
Tercentenary Lecture, one must understand his media, 
which are (1) dramatic and (2) Elizabethan. To expunge 
the drunken porter's scene in Macbeth, as Coleridge 
wanted to do, would be to disregard the dramatic situa- 
tion, which demanded comic relief and necessitated an 
interval between Macbeth's exit and re-entrance. Bod- 
enstedt's imaginative remark on the porter is relevant, 
too: "He never dreams, while imagining himself a port- 
er of hell-gate, how near he comes to the truth!" 

Since Shakespeare was an Elizabethan, knowledge 
of his language and his times is obviously essential to 
understanding what he means. Probably no other Shake- 
spearian scholar of Kittredge J s day had so keen a feeling 
for the finer shades of Elizabethan English, tempered 
always, of course, by sensitiveness to dramatic contexts. 
Kittredge's skill in paraphrasing would have won the 
admiration of Doctor Johnson, with whom he also 
shared experience as a lexicographer but who as an 
editor lacked both Kittredge's command of linguistic 
resources and his experience in expounding the text of 
Shakespeare. Kittredge's favorite illustration of mis- 
understanding Shakespeare's language related to Othel- 



lo's "On this hint I spake/' a passage which has led 
some readers, unaware that "hint" in Elizabethan Eng- 
lish could mean "occasion" or "opportunity," to sup- 
pose that Othello told the Venetian senate, "Desde- 
mona's hint led to my proposal of marriage' 'a state- 
ment no gentleman would have made under the circum- 
stances. To many modern readers "fool" is not a pos- 
sible term of endearment, "naughty" may be a childish 
or trivial word, "pregnant hinges of the knee" is a phy- 
siological mystery. Such readers are helpless before a 
phrase like "working so grossly in a natural cause/' 
which Kittredge explains as "operating together with 
such obvious fitness in carrying out the purposes to 
which they were both inclined by nature." 

The critic who wondered why an English scholar 
was also a student of witchcraft was blind to the way in 
which a knowledge of demonology can illuminate the 
plays of Shakespeare. As a student of the occult Kitt- 
redge could give an explanation of the supernaturalism 
in The Tempest: of Ariel, to whom as an "airy spirit" 
"all labor is repugnant," and of the spirits of the ele- 
ments controlled by Prospero. He knew that when one 
of the weird sisters in Macbeth speaks of sailing "in a 
sieve," she means just that: "It was believed that 
witches could use sieves as boats. In an historical case 
(reported in Newes from Scotland, 1591) which made a 
great noise in Scotland, and in which King James was 
personally interested, several witches, and among them 
one Dr. Fian, a schoolmaster, were convicted of having 
gone to sea in a sieve, raised a storm, and caused a 
frightful wreck/' 20 Ignoring other lines of the context, 
some commentators had explained "do" in "And, like 
a rat without a tail, I'll do. . ." as meaning "gnaw." A 



regular meaning of 'like 5 ' in Elizabethan English is "in 
the shape of." Witches could take the shape of a familiar 
spirit, an animal such as a rat, and "act" (not "gnaw") 
so that the ship would be "tempest-tost" (not sunk) and 
so that those on board would suffer tribulations. 

Kittredge knew why the reading, in another play, 

"I'll call thee Hamlet, 
King, father, royal Dane. O, answer mel" 
is preferable, since ghosts are more effectively invoked 
by more than one name. Furthermore, because Eliza- 
bethans believed the Devil could take the guise of 
ghosts, Hamlet must, unless he is to act rashly and im- 
petuously like his foil Laertes, who nearly kills the 
wrong man, be sure that the ghost is "an honest ghost"; 
hence the device of the play within the play. 

In his brief lecture on Shakespeare in 1916 Kitt- 
redge outlined the challenging interpretation of Ham- 
let that he had long taught in more detail; indeed, 
others, long afterwards, were still announcing some of 
its particulars as if they were their own original views. 
Though Kittredge sometimes admitted that Hamlet is a 
sensitive and contemplative man, whose conscience re- 
bels against the old code of revenge, to him Hamlet was 
not a weak-willed delayer; the play is really a conflict of 
two "mighty opposites," a tragedy involving the royal 
group. Claudius is a foeman worthy of Hamlet, who re- 
mains a character of great subtlety, though not the 
chronically indecisive procrastinator envisioned by Cole- 
ridge and the many critics influenced by him. 

Kittredge's interpretation of Hamlet is one of his 
most original contributions. Former students who pe- 
ruse his editions of Shakespeare may miss his unforget- 
table acting of characters like Falstaff (whom he sturdily 



defended from the allegation of cowardice), Fluellen, 
even the Hostess, as well as the apt, often simple illus- 
trations that brought home the truth of some passage to 
human nature; but they will find riches on every hand. 
Part of Kittredge's note on the passage emended by 
Theobald, in the Hostess's speech on Falstaff s death in 
Henry V, may be quoted as a cogent and succinct de- 
fense of that emendation: "It was because Falstaff talked 
of green fields in his delirium that the Hostess knew 
that he was 'playing with flowers/ Otherwise she would 
not have given this interpretation to his picking at the 
coverlet." 21 

Is Julius Caesar merely the story of Brutus? "Caesar 
vanquishes Brutus and Cassius at Philippi as truly as 
he vanquished Pompey at Pharsalus. . . . Caesar, alive or 
dead, pervades and operates the drama and not less 
after his death than in his life/' 22 Need we be sorry for 
thinking that the story of Beatrice and Benedick vies 
with "the main plot"? "It is Benedick who bids the 
pipers strike up, and we remember that a star danced 
when Beatrice was born/' 23 


The fame of the scholar affected the success of the 
lectures. These were in fact so triumphant that Kitt- 
redge's former student and colleague, Arthur Colby 
Sprague, later of Bryn Mawr, who in 1945 was to edit 
Kittredge's explanatory notes for editions of Henry V 
and The Merchant of Venice (plays included also in 
Sixteen Plays of Shakespeare, 1946, with a discerning 
preface by Sprague on "Kittredge as a Shakespearean 
Critic"), has suggested the word progress, as in royal 
progress, as a suitable description for the journeys of 
this king of Shakespearians. 



Kittredge's arrival was sometimes announced in an 
interview containing somewhat dramatic expressions of 
opinion. "Though I revere Aristotle as the father of 
learning, there is not a single one of his works I would 
not burn" because of the garbled text, he was quoted 
as explaining. "It is not so with Shakespeare. . . . Rather 
it is his commentators' works that I would like to 
burn/' 24 Newspapers, in giving generous space to the 
forthcoming lectures, sometimes quoted Kittredge him- 
self on the apocryphal stories about him. The story of 
his alleged answer to the question why he did not take 
his Ph. D. degree "Who would examine me?" he spe- 
cifically on several occasions branded as untrue. "I 
never had time to earn a Ph. D. degree," he once ex- 
plained. "Besides, I always told my students I probably 
couldn't pass the exam." 25 Also untrue was the oft- 
repeated story that he had gone to Oxford and asked a 
question in answer to which he had been told that only 
one person in the world could answer that question, 
George Lyman Kittredge of Harvard. (A variant of this 
yarn places the questioner at Stratford-on-Avon.) Cer- 
tain comments on Kittredge, like certain stories, were 
often repeated. A Chicago paper quoted Kittredge as 
remarking, "Please do not say I have a Shavian beard. 
I am tired of being compared to Shaw simply because 
he happens to be about the same age. I don't say my 
beard is better or worse than Shaw's, but it is different." 

Part of Kittredge's pleasure in delivering lectures at 
various places was the opportunity to meet some of his 
numerous former students, who felt their own prestige 
was boosted when their master singled them out or 
spoke well of them. Many of them preserved long after- 
wards their memories of his visits. If he chanced to stay 



at their houses, they noticed that, as ever, he seemed to 
need little sleep and arose early. One who met him 
aboard a train saw the conductor shake hands with him 
and express pleasure at having had his company, hear- 
ing afterwards Kittredge's explanation that he had not 
wanted to go to bed while he was crossing the Missis- 
sippi River and so had stayed up and talked to the con- 
ductor. In some instances they were surprised to find 
that, in spite of long experience in public speaking, 
Kittredge seemed to be concerned, even a bit nervous, 
about the approaching lectures. At the University of 
Virginia, where he was invited to visit Monticello, a 
visit which he much enjoyed, he took his brief-case with 
him, refusing to leave it either in his room or in a 
locked car but carrying it in his hand. 26 

Invariably audiences gave him a warm welcome, ap- 
plauding him heartily and sometimes rising spontane- 
ously to their feet when he entered. At the University 
of Wisconsin such a large crowd came to the theater that 
the curtain was dropped before Kittredge came in, and 
the platform behind the curtain was used for standing 
room. Kittredge did not know his audience was on all 
sides of him until a humorous remark brought laughter 
from behind the curtain. For a moment startled, he 
soon joined in the laughter which echoed through the 
building in two directions. In many instances the lec- 
tures were followed by brief question periods, during 
which the audiences were impressed by the lecturer's 
wit and the readiness of his answers. 


As one versed in colonial history, Kittredge had 
been asked to write the inscription for the Thomas 



Hutchinson memorial doorway in the First Church in 
Boston and for the monument on the site of Sacrament 
Rock, the boulder from which the Rev. John Lothrop 
had preached the first sermon in Barnstable and taken 
charge of the first communion service. When in 1939 
the tercentenary celebration was held in Barnstable, 
Kittredge was asked to assist in the program. He did his 
part quickly and sat down, with no visible enthusiasm 
for what followed, as an onlooker thought. 

At Barnstable he had often attended the Unitarian 
church, since the nearest Congregational church, seat of 
one of the earliest congregations in America, was some 
distance away, at West Barnstable. At Cambridge he 
was a member of the First Congregational Church, 
where he had a regular pew. In the earlier years of the 
century more than one person discovered that Kitt- 
redge, who enjoyed the sermon but cared little for 
anthem or ritual, had slipped into his pew during the 
long pre-sermon prayer, ready to look up blandly at the 
minister, who sometimes had glared disapprovingly at 
the empty seat, observers felt sure, before the prayer 

Kittredge told some of his classes a story to illustrate 
how a man assumed to have special knowledge might 
also be assumed to have a wide knowledge outside his 
specialty a story incidentally revealing something of 
his own religious views. Once when he was in Cornwall 
looking up antiquities, he had hired a Cornish driver of 
a buckboard for a day. After Kittredge had surprised 
him by knowing about certain Roman remains, the 
driver had finally said, "It is not often that a man like 
me has a chance to talk to a learned man. I'd like to ask 
you one question: Do you think there is a life after 



this?" Kittredge told him of feeling assured that there 
is. It was said of Kittredge after his death: "And though 
he was not much given to speaking of his more intimate 
feelings, those who came closest to him knew, and few 
who saw him only at the longer range of the classroom 
can have failed to discover, that the deepest thing in his 
life was a devout Christian spirit." 27 

During his last years Kittredge's public appearances 
grew fewer. Early in June of 1940 he attended Alumni 
Day at the Phillips Exeter Academy. In behalf of the 
class of 1889 George H. Carter presented to the Acad- 
emy Harold Brett's portrait of Kittredge, which was ac- 
cepted for the trustees by Thomas W. Lamont. After 
the unveiling of the portrait, Kittredge's speech was 
followed by an ovation later reported to be among the 
notable events of the day. On June 17, he gave a com- 
mencement address at Colby College, which conferred 
upon him an honorary degree. One who heard his con- 
versation at Colby was struck by the reminiscences from 
Shakespeare in his phrasing and his several jesting allu- 
sions to his age. 28 

If he had been minded to forget his years, his friends 
and well-wishers would hardly have allowed him to do 
so. On March 8, 1940, the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, re- 
printing a photograph of him by Richard Carver Wood, 
commented on Kittredge's having attained the age of 
eighty, on February 28" Wherewith we salute a great 
scholar, teacher, and gentleman, and wish him affec- 
tionately well." 

A luncheon in honor of his eightieth birthday had 
been given a few days before by the Club of Odd Vol- 
umes, of which he had served a second term as president 



during 1935-37. The remarkable cake presented to him 
then was described as "a two-tier birthday cake, sur- 
mounted by a bust of Shakespeare with a strip of bacon 
realistically copied in sugar, and eight candles behind 
the bust. On the upper tier were shields giving the dates 
of Professor Kittredge's honorary degrees, and on the 
lower tier were replicas of stages with symbols repre- 
senting the principal plays of Shakespeare/' 29 Kittredge 
chose not to cut the cake-maker's masterpiece but ex- 
plained to guests that he would like to use it as a center- 
piece for a few dinner parties he and his wife were giv- 
ing in the near future. For several years Mrs. Kittredge 
kept the little bust of Shakespeare from the cake. After 
her husband's death, since the members wished to have 
some memorial of him, Mr. Walter Muir Whitehill 
took the notes of the paper which Kittredge had read 
before the Club in 1933 on "New Light on Romeo and 
Juliet 91 and had them printed in a small edition, using 
as a tail-piece an eighteenth-century reproduction of a 
classical comic mask, redrawn to look like Kittredge, so 
that at the end the author appeared to be laughing at 
his own joke incidentally, something his students never 
observed Kittredge doing. 

Letters and other reminders of those students he 
cherished: those written several years before, like that 
from the dean who still prized "the twenty pages, writ- 
ten in your own hand, of translations from Old Norse 
sagas that I needed for my dissertation/' 30 A letter from 
J. S. P. Tatlock, then at the University of California, 
confessed that for years he wrote nothing without say- 
ing to himself, "How would this strike Mr. Kittredge?" 
Another scholar had written that "whenever I catch 
myself writing something sloppy or verbose or preten- 



tious, a recollection of your example and your criticisms 
sets me to revising with a haste inspired, even after these 
several years, by feelings akin to terror!" More recently, 
a young student wrote asking that Kittredge autograph 
a set of Shakespeare plays for the small son of another 
student, now dead, who "held you in such great venera- 
tion" and who had taught that young son, as well as his 
own students, "to regard you likewise." 31 

During his last months Kittredge worked quietly on 
his edition of Shakespeare, at home or in the Widener 
Library "the most impressive sight, many people 
thought, in that noble building," as H. E. Rollins wrote 
in his Introduction to Thorpe's bibliography of Kitt- 
redge. He remained in good health till not long before 
his death, continuing to work till a short time before his 
final illness, from sclerosis of the coronary artery. He be- 
lieved that his life had been happy, though uneventful, 
and, though without Johnson's misgivings, contem- 
plated its end with no more enthusiasm than Dr. John- 
son had shown about his death. 

Following a short illness, Kittredge died on July 23, 
1941. With no memorable last words as he approached 
the end, he made what may have been his most un- 
dramatic exit. After a quiet family service, he was 
buried at Barnstable in the historic Lothrop Hill Ceme- 
tery to which his boyhood friend W. F. M. Goss (1859- 
1928) had preceded him by several years. There, in the 
family plot, where today one may find other initials on 
similar stones, one may also find a simple stone to mark 
the place where one of the greatest American scholars 
lies-a stone with the familiar initials "G. L. K." 

More than is true of most scholars, memories of this 


scholar remain pungent; through his students his in- 
fluence lives on in many universities. The stories of him 
that continue to be told at academic gatherings, factual 
or not, are a tribute to his personality. A small minority, 
it is true, whether because of his shyness, his sense of 
dignity, his infrequent displays of irascibility, or be- 
cause the traits of the schoolmaster sometimes aroused 
resentments often explained as connected with the 
father image, did not share the admiration felt by the 
many who had some experience of his kindness. Though 
he found it desirable to impress undergraduates with a 
sense of his authority, he did not lack the humility that 
springs from a sense of awe, from a recognition of one's 
own insignificance in the presence of cosmic law or 
great natural forces. 

As a scholar and teacher his choices were determined 
largely by his training and his essential conservatism. 
In some quarters he was identified with a certain kind 
of linguistic program and was judged accordingly. It 
was falsely charged that he cared only for facts, the truth 
being, aside from his wish to inculcate habits of ac- 
curacy, that he preferred to base large generalizations 
on carefully considered evidence. In the classroom he 
indicated that he knew, as well as any literary theorist, 
that mere knowledge may seem irrelevant in relation to 
poetry; but he did not forget, as some literary theorists 
do, that a large understanding is the basis of sound ap- 

The subtleties of literary analysis did not lead him 
away from life. A taste uncontaminated by literary ped- 
antry is evident in his work on Chaucer and Shake- 
speare, more familiar than his work on the ballads 
and romances and more important than his American 



studies, of which Witchcraft in Old and New England 
is most memorable. Belonging to the literature of 
knowledge, it is so elaborately documented that the 
kind of critic who thinks he is disparaging a book by 
citing the number of its notes could hardly do it justice. 
Sometimes indeed footnotes may be the stilts on which 
pedants walk. They do not lead to the stars, nor do they 
usually entertain the divine Zenocrate. But they may be 
anchors to solid reality, even rungs on the ladder of 
truth. They are often the intelligencers of other schol- 
ars, and it was for other scholars, as sometimes for an 
even larger audience, that this great American scholar 




1. The Boston Directory for 1860 shows that E. L. Kittredge -was 
living at 11 East Canton Street. In 1862 he is listed as living at 5 East 
Canton Street, in 1863 at Cottage Place, and in 1865 at 2 Gloucester 
Place, where he remained till 1868. In 1869 he lived at 6 Briggs Place, 
which seems to have been his address till he moved to Barnstable. In 
1875 his address was 47 Hammond Park, in 1877-79 6 Briggs Place, and 
in 1880 245 Longwood Avenue, in Roxbury, his home during his last 

2. M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Barrett Wendell and His Letters (Boston, 
n.d.), p. 47. 

3. Quoted from the MS "Edward L. Kittredge's Dictated Account of 
the First Part of His Journey to California in 1849"; a brief earlier ac- 
count of his experiences appeared in a letter dated Sept. 15, 1849, pub- 
lished in Vol. LI of the New -Hampshire Sentinel. 

4. Letter of Professor F. N. Robinson, Dec. 4, 1957. 

5. G. L. Kittredge's preface to Henry C. Kittredge's Cape Cod: Its 
People and Their History (New York, 1930). The Kittredge line can 
be traced back to John Kittredge, who came to Billerica (later part of 
Tewksbury), Massachusetts, about 1660. The line is charted in Mabel 
T. Kittredge's The Kittredge Family in America (Rutland, Vt., n.d.). 

6. No evidence is known to substantiate the legend, which has ap- 
peared in print, that E. L. Kittredge was once a blacksmith. 

7. Cf. O. J. Laylander, The Chronicles of a Contented Man (Chi- 
cago, 1928). For the information about Miss Whelden I am indebted to 
Miss Elizabeth C. Nye and Peter P. Jenkins. 

The statement that George studied for a short time with a private 
tutor before attending Roxbury Latin School has appeared in print; 
this statement I have been unable to confirm. 

8. George's report cards were preserved. 

9. Letter of Sept. 28, 1955, from Francis C. Woodman, who grad- 
uated from Roxbury Latin School in 1884. 

10. Letter from William C. Holbrook, Feb. 3, 1956. 


1. Announced in the Roxbury Latin School catalogue for 1878-79, 
according to information supplied by Miss Abbie P. MacKinnon, Sec- 

2. The document of the Cape Cod Association, dated Nov. 2, 1877, 
is endorsed on the back: "Received Nov. 4th, 1877, Kittredge." 


NOTES (pp. 16-34) 

3. His home address in 1878-79 is given in the Harvard catalog as 6 
Briggs Place, Boston. 

4. Some of my information about student organizations comes from 
The Harvard Club Book 1892-93. 

5. Most of the records of the O. K. Club are in the Harvard Archives. 
Unfortunately that for part of the time when George was a member 
is missing. 

6. Catalogue of the Editors of the Harvard Advocate, 1866-1886, 
containing a history of the Advocate. 

7. Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Nov. 6, 1936, p. 191. 

8. Harvard Crimson, Oct. 4, 1941. 

9. Katherine Lyon Mix, A Study in Yellow (Lawrence, Kansas, 1960), 
pp. 57-58. 

10. The November issue of the Century Magazine advertised that 
the play was to be given at the Globe Theatre in Boston for a week 
commencing January 23, 1882, Riddle to act the chief part in Greek 
but the supporting cast to use English. 

11. Quoted by Charles Lane Hanson in "Four Years at Harvard 
College," Cambridge Historical Society Publications, XXXIV (Cam- 
bridge, 1954), 37-57, paper read Oct. 22, 1951. 

12. A brief sketch of Snow was written by Kittredge for the class 
records after Snow's death in 1920. 

13. The commonplace books mentioned I consulted through the 
courtesy of Professor B. J. Whiting and the Harvard Library. 

14. For Hanson's comment see the reference in note 11. 

15. For Kittredge's tribute to Greenough, see James Thorpe, A 
Bibliography of the Writings of George Lyman Kittredge (Cambridge, 
Mass., 1948), items 193 and 211. 

16. Kittredge's address in memory of Dean Briggs was published in 
the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, XXXVII (Dec. 21, 1934), 392-94. 

17. Quoted in A Scholar's Letters to a Young Lady: Passages from 
the Later Correspondence of Francis James Child (Boston, n.d.), p. ix. 

18. Ibid., p. viii. 

19. Personal memoirs in a letter from Miss Henrietta Child to me 
in November, 1955, from Berea, Kentucky. 

20. A Scholar's Letters, p. 18. 
2L /6iU,p. 150. 

22. Ellery Sedgwick, The Happy Profession (Boston, 1946), pp. 


1. Exonian, Jan. 13, 1883, and letters from several former students 
to the author. 


(pp. 34-49) NOTES 

2. Letter of William W. Gale, April 20, 1956. 

3. C. L. Hanson's unpublished journal; letter from Arthur H. Lock- 
ett, April 18, 1956; from Ezra Ray Dickerman, May 2, 1956; from Amos 
Alonzo Stagg, April 20, 1956. 

4. George H. Moses, "Fifty Years Ago," Phillips Exeter Bulletin, 
April, 1937, pp. 9-13. 

5. Comments by C. L. Hanson in his unpublished journal. 

6. Stagg's letter of April 20, 1956, to the author. 

7. Thomas W. Lament, My Boyhood in a Parsonage (New York and 
London, 1948), p. 132. An undated clipping, from which the quotation 
that follows this reference is taken, contains a letter to the New York 
Times in which Larnont made similar statements. 

8. For instance, in the Exonian of March 10, 1883. 

9. I am indebted to W. O. Pennell of Exeter for information about 
the wedding and other matters. 

10. Information supplied by Theodore Silverstein. 

11. I am grateful to the director of the University Library at 
Tubingen, Prof. Dr. P. Gehring, for a systematic study of the records. 
No records were found at Leipzig. 

12. "Zu Beowulf 107 ./' Beitrage zur Geschichte der deutschen 
Sprache und Literatur, XIII (1887), 210. 

If not cited as apocryphal, only stories believed to be true are 
mentioned in this chapter. Some not credited to particular sources are 
supported by my direct personal knowledge or that of a few informants, 
such as Professor B. J. Whiting, who could speak from direct knowl- 
edge. I have omitted intrinsically doubtful stories told at second hand, 
like that of Kittredge's being so carried away at a dramatic moment 
that he hurled his own watch out of the window. 

1. Miss Eleanor W. Allen of Boston was one of Kittredge's students 
at Miss Folsom's school. 

2. From "George Lyman Kittredge a Harvard Saga," by "One of 
His Students/' Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Nov. 6, 1936, pp. 188-96. 

3. Letter of Dec. 26, 1956, from Stuart P. Park, '29. 

4. F. N. Robinson in the Harvard Crimson, Oct. 3, 1941. 

5. Letter of H. Lincoln Harrison, Jan. 7, 1957. 

6. To Dr. Cabot, May 14, 1926. 

7. Quoted by Rollo W. Brown in his " 'Kitty* of Harvard," Atlantic 
Monthly, Oct., 1948, pp. 65-69. 

8. Kittredge told several people that the incident did not happen. 
It was also included in the stories denied in a bulletin published by 


NOTES (pp. 49-71) 

Ginn and Company. See the Saturday Review of Literature, July 4, 
1936, p. 12, under Christopher Morley's "The Bowling Green." 

9. See, for instance, All Our Years: The Autobiography of Robert 
Morss Lovett (New York, 1948), p. 37. 

10. Interview with G. B. Weston. 

11. See note 2. 

12. Letter of H. N. MacCracken. 

13. For this and other stories I am indebted to the reminiscences of 
Chester L. Shaver, in his letter of March 28, 1956. 

14. George Burke Johnston, Ben Jonson: Poet (New York, 1945). 
I am indebted to Professor Robert C. Cawley for this reference. 

15. Theodore Spencer in the Harvard Crimson, Oct. 3, 1941. 

16. Rollo W. Brown, cited above in note 7. 

17. Lewis Nichols in the New York Times Magazine, April 19, 1936, 
p. 10. 

18. Letter of Cyrus L. Day, March 12, 1956. 

19. Letter of Alwin Thaler, Nov. 22, 1955. 

20. These "boners" were quoted in Kittredge's lecture called "A 
Teacher's Memories and Impressions." 

21. F. N. Robinson in the Harvard Crimson for Oct. 3, 1941. 

22. Story told by Archer Taylor, letter of Nov. 29, 1955. 

23. Story by Homer E. Woodbridge of an incident observed by his 
own daughter in a class at Radcliffe. 

24. Rollo W. Brown, cited in note 7. 

25. See above, note 8. 

26. Letter of John P. Emery, Oct. 11, 1958. 

27. In the Harvard Crimson, Oct. 3, 1941. 

28. Letter of J. R. Masterson, June 10, 1956. 

29. Notes of William J. Mack. 

30. This comment of his student days I owe to the kindness of 
Horace J. Smith. 

31. Jacob Zeitlin and Homer Woodbridge, Life and Letters of 
Stuart P. Sherman, I, 106. 

32. For this story and others I am indebted to Professor E. P. Kuhl. 

33. Letter of John W. Draper, March 8, 1956. 

34. Letter of James R. Masterson. 

35. Letter of Ralph M. Wardle. 

36. Letter of John W. Draper. 

37. Alan D. McKillop. 

38. Letter of Fredson Bowers, Oct. 12, 1955. 

39. Gerald Brace, The Wayward Pilgrims (1938). 

40. Letter of H. Robinson Shipherd, Oct. 13, 1956. 

41. Carbon of letter of May 14, 1924. 


(pp. 71-98) NOTES 

42. See note 27. 

43. In a paper read before the Cambridge Historical Society on 
Oct. 22, 1951, Hanson stated that "in writing a chapter on grammar I 
came upon a question to which I could find no answer. But one night 
in a dream I asked Kittredge and he solved the problem at once." See 
note 11 under 2 above. 

1. The curious reader may see James Thorpe's bibliography for the 
full list of Latin texts. Kittredge's brochure on Some Landmarks in the 
History of Latin Grammars (1903), comparable to a similar volume on 
English grammars in 1906, may also be mentioned. 

2. Letter to Kittredge from John F. Genung, March 17, 1888. 

3. Phelps's article in the Harvard Crimson, Oct. 3, 1941. 

4. Quoted in Wisner Payne Kinne, George Pierce Baker and the 
American Theatre (Cambridge, 1954), p. 45. The reviews in the Nation 
were of course unsigned. 

5. Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature, V (1896; issued 
in 1897), 85-106; cf. note 6. 

6. Kittredge's Sir Thomas Malory (Barnstable, 1925), especially p. 
10, note 1. He points out (pp. 5-6) Dugdale's error in reckoning the 
year of Malory's death. 

7. "Sir Orfeo," American Journal of Philology, VII (1886), 176-202. 

8. Cf. Thorpe's bibliography of Kittredge, p. 27, item 111; volume 
III of Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature, 1894. Furnivall 
became an occasional correspondent. That he valued Kittredge's opinion 
is shown by his inquiry on August 19, 1900, "Are there any other texts 
or documents you want the Chaucer Society to print before it winds 
up?" Several of Furnivall's post cards to Kittredge are in the Houghton 

9. "Professor Child," Atlantic Monthly, LXXVIII (1896), 737-42. 

10. See, for instance, David Worcester's article in the Harvard 
Alumni Bulletin, Oct. 4, 1941, pp. 18-19. 

Extant letters written by Mrs. Child show her appreciation of 
Kittredge's kindness after her husband's death, as well as her concern 
that her young friend might injure his health by overexertion. 

11. On Nov. 6, 1897, Joseph Jastrow acknowledged receipt of "your 
specimens of the Psalms.'* 

12. Rollo W. Brown in the Atlantic Monthly, Oct., 1948, p. 67. 

13. Story told by Mrs. Kittredge to John G. Pierce, according to 
Pierce's letter of Oct. 8, 1956. 

14. Boston Globe, May 18 and 19, 1906. 


NOTES (pp. 98-117) 

15. Letter of Robert A. Law, Nov. 27, 1955. 

16. Kittredge's "Ballads and Songs," JAFL, XXX (1917), 283-369. Cf. 
D. K. Wilgus, Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship since 1898 (New 
Brunswick, N, J., 1959), p. 155. Wilgus states (p. 149) that "the Child- 
and-other arrangement" was firmly established in Kittredge's edition 
of "Ballads and Rhymes from Kentucky," collected by Katherine Petti t, 
JAFL,yL-X. (1907), 251-77. 

17. In a copy of a letter written March 19, 1930, Kittredge said: 
"Thank you very much for the report of your interesting talk on bal- 
lads. I am pained to note that you think Miss Pound has exploded the 
communal theory. In my humble opinion, she has never understood 
what that theory is, so that what she has demolished is an imaginary 
structure and not the communal theory at all." 


1. Merle Curti, American Scholarship in the Twentieth Century 
(Cambridge, 1953), p. 5, mentions European recognition early in the 
century, though grudging, of men like Willard Gibbs, William James, 
Franz Boas, J. H. Breasted, and G. L. Kittredge. 

2. Story by Francis L. Utley, June 14, 1960. 

3. W. L. Phelps in the Harvard Crimson, special issue of Oct. 3, 

4. Article by F. N. Robinson, ibid. Gossip, which pictured Kittredge 
as the only open foe of Eliot in faculty meetings, alleged that he once 
attacked so fiercely that Eliot covered his face with his hands, according 
to John Jay Chapman and His Letters, ed. M. A. DeWolfe Howe (Bos- 
ton, 1937), p. 203. Chapman, whose views were often expressed in- 
temperately, thought of Child as "the symbol of documentation, classi- 
fication, and footnotes"; though not a student of Kittredge, he adds 
that "Kittredge was his pupil, and Kittredge was the iron man who 
would be seen stalking about Cambridge with a vicious looking bag 
filled with burglar's tools and notes on Othello" (ibid., p. 194). Since 
Kittredge sometimes carried a brief-case but never a bag and since he 
did not need to carry "notes on Othello," the meaning of this absurdity 
could be clear only to Chapman. 

5. For this story I am indebted to G. B. Weston. 

6. Quoted from the American Scholar in the Harvard Alumni Bul- 
letin, Oct. 4, 1941, p. 19. 

7. The preface to the first volume published by the Texas Folk-Lore 
Society (1916), ed. Stith Thompson (incidentally, a former student), 
was written by Kittredge. 

8. John A. Lomax, Adventures of a Ballad Hunter (New York, 1947), 
p. 238. 


(pp. 118-134) NOTES 

9. Letter of H. N. MacCracken, March, 1956. 

10. John F. Kennedy, "Sower of the Seed," in College in a Yard, ed. 
Brooks Atkinson (Cambridge, 1957), p. 125. 

11. See note 4. 

12. Information supplied by R. H. Haynes of the Harvard Library. 

13. Charlton Laird in Contemporary Literary Scholarship: A Criti- 
cal Review, ed. Lewis Leary (New York, n.d.), p. 348. 

14. Evidence is supplied by James H. Hanford, for instance, in 
"Harvard Philology Forty Years Ago," Antioch Review, VIII (Sept. 
1948), 308-20. 

15. Quoted by Jacob Zeitlin and Homer Woodbridge, Life and 
Letters of Stuart P. Sherman (New York, n.d.), II, 465. 

16. Quoted in ibid., I, 115. 

17. Ibid. 

18. The Nation, XCVII (Sept. II, 1913), 227-30; reprinted in Sher- 
man's Shaping Men and Women, ed. Jacob Zeitlin (Garden City, New 
York, 1928). 

19. Stuart P. Sherman, Critical Woodcuts (New York and London, 
1926), p. 254. 

20. See William Lyon Phelps, Autobiography with Letters (New 
York, London, and Toronto, 1939), pp. 246-47. 

21. C. H. Grandgent in the chapter on "Modern Languages" in 
The Development of Harvard University, ed. S. E. Morison (Cambridge, 
Mass., 1930), p, 103. 

22. "Graduate Schools and Literature/* Nation, LXXXVI (May 14, 
1908), 442. 

23. Zei din's introduction to Sherman's Shaping Men and Women 
(Garden City, New York, 1928), pp. xl-xli. 

24. Letter of May 5, 1926, to H. E. Rollins. 

25. Letters in the Harvard Archives. 

26. Quotation from a letter written by a scholar in the field of 
modern literature who died before he could authorize ascription to 
him of specific passages. 

1. Kittredge's article "Edwin Ginn (1938-1914)," in the Journal of 
Education, XCVTII (1923), 287-90. I am indebted to David Pottinger, 
formerly of the Harvard University Press, for some of the information 
used in this section. 

2. "Supposed Historical Allusions in the Squire's Tale," Englische 
Studien f XIII (1889), 1-24. 

3. "Chaucer's Dreme," Englische Studien, XIII (1889), 24-25; the 


NOTES (pp. 135-142) 

article is dated Feb. 10, 1889. For the discussion of The Court of Love, 
see Harvard Studies and Notes, I, 109-17. 

4. On the importance of the early linguistic studies cf. Albert C. 
Baugh's "Fifty Years of Chaucer Scholarship," Speculum, XXVI (1951), 

5. A letter from Horace E. Scudder, in the Harvard Archives, written 
to Kittredge on Sept. 14, 1900, asks him to consider an edition that 
might follow the pattern of Child's edition of the ballads. Remarks in 
Kittredge's own correspondence indicate that for a time he seriously 
considered such an edition. 

6. "The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale," Transactions of the 
Royal Society of Literature, second series, XXX, 87-95; read Oct. 26, 

7. "Chaucer's Discussion of Marriage," Modern Philology., IX 
(April, 1912), 435-67. 

8. Though it has been proposed, for instance, to place the Nun's 
Priest's Tale and the Tale of Melibeus in the group, neither mentions 
sovereignty in marriage. The conection seems remote. 

9. W. H. French's "The Man in Black's Lyric," Journal of English 
and Germanic Philology, LVI (April, 1957), 230-41, attempts to under- 
mine Kittredge's discussion of Chaucer's dream psychology with the 
supposition that Chaucer was too conventional to know that dreams 
are irrational a curious supposition in reference to a poet with a life- 
long interest in dreams, one whose treatment of dreams in Troilus, for 
instance, anticipates some of the discoveries of modern psychiatry. 

10. Since a large proportion of the work is in dialogue and since it 
includes extended analysis of mental states, including dreams, the at- 
tempt to interpret the poem as "romance" instead of "psychological 
novel," by one of Kittredge's former students, Karl Young (PMLA, 
1938), does not require consideration here. 

11. Among the reviews: New Republic, II (March 13, 1915), 162; 
Dial LVIII (June 10, 1915), 467-68; Nation, CI (July 22, 1915), 121-22; 
Sewanee Review, XXIII (1915), 494-98; Yale Review, V, n. s- (1916), 
426-30; Modern Philology, XIV (May, 1916), 61-64. 

12- In The Date of Chaucer's Troilus and Other Chaucer Matters 
(London: published for the Chaucer Society, 1909). 

13. "Chaucer's Lollius," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 
XXVIII (1917), 47-133. 

14. Robert A. Pratt, "A Note on Chaucer's Lollius," Modern 
Language Notes, LXV (1950), 183-87. 

15. G. G. Coulton in Modern Language Review, XIII (1918), 240-4L 

16. Arthur and Gorlagon was a Latin romance, which Kittredge 
edited for the first time, from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library 


(pp. 143-157) NOTES 

(Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature, VIII [1903], 149-275). 
Its relationship to other treatments of a werewolf story most familiar 
in a lay by Marie de France is studied partly for its light on "the 
position of Celtic literature in the letters, and consequently in the life 
and culture, of the civilized world." For a recent discussion of Arthur 
and Gorlagon see Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages, ed. R. S. 
Loomis (Oxford, 1959), pp. 477 f. 

17. A recent article, Larry D. Benson's "The Source of the Be- 
heading Episode in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" Modern Phi- 
lology, LIX (Aug., 1961), 1-12, questions the existence of this French 
Gawain romance. Benson finds parallels between Sir Gawain and Le 
Livre de Caradoc, especially in versions of the Caradoc unknown to 
scholars in Kittredge's time. He assumes that the Gawain poet probably 
used a lost manuscript that included details surviving only in a prose 
version dated much later than that poet. 


1. Greenslet's letter of Feb. 7, 1912. 

2. The speech was reported in the Boston Globe, Dec. 31, 1926. 

3. "Cotton Mather's Election into the Royal Society," Publications 
of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, XIV (1913), 81-114, and 
"Further Notes on Cotton Mather and the Royal Society," ibid., XIV 
(1913), 281-92. 

4. E. R. Adair in the English Historical Review, XL VII (Oct., 1932), 
673-75, supported Kittredge's point of view about King James by point- 
ing out that recent research had disclosed sixty-five executions of 
witches during Elizabeth's reign of forty-five years as compared with 
fourteen during James's reign of twenty-two. 

5. The phrases quoted are from reviews in the Saturday Review of 
Literature, April 20, 1929, p. 904; American Literature, I (May, 1929), 
213-15; Springfield Republican, Aug. 18, 1929, p. 7e. 

6. Allen W. Porterfield in the Virginia Quarterly Review, V (Oct., 
1929), 619-20, missed the point that people at Salem were not burned, 
incorrectly implying that Kittredge said they were. 

7. The instances mentioned are based on material in Kittredge's 

8. Margaret Farrand Thorp, Neilson of Smith (New York, 1956), 
pp. 106-07. 

9. For information about Kittredge's associations with the Club of 
Odd Volumes I am most indebted to Milton Edward Lord, director of 
the Boston Public Library, and to Walter Muir Whitehill, a former 
president of the club. 


NOTES (pp. 158-179) 

10. The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, ed. Kittredge, p. 137. 

11. Albert Halstead of the American Consular Service, as his letter 
of June 16, 1932, indicates, sent Kittredge a copy of the speeches made 
at the Pilgrims* luncheon, now in the Harvard Archives. 

12. This was W. R. Halliday, Principal of King's College, London, 
who, in a mostly favorable review of Witchcraft in Old and New Eng- 
land, used the phrase "a tinge of arrogance." Halliday's document ex- 
plains that he "doth hereby recant and retract the use of the op- 
probrious and libellous epithet. . . . He doth freely further confess 
that to connect scholarship so profound or good fellowship so genial 
with such detraction is to confuse Appearance with Reality and/or to 
attribute Reality to the shadows in the Cave." 

13. Letters of Robert A. Law, Nov. 27, 1955, and Merritt Y. Hughes, 
Dec. 5, 1955. 

14. Cambridge Review, June 3, 1932, "Visit of Professor Kittredge"; 
Jackson's letter of June 8, 1932, Harvard Archives. 

15. Letter to the author, Feb. 8, 1958. 

1. Letter of John P. Emery, Oct. 11, 1958. 

2. Carbon copy of letter of May 28, 1926, Harvard Archives. 

3. In Rollo W. Brown, "'Kitty' of Harvard," Atlantic Monthly, 
CLXXXII (Oct., 1948), 69. 

4. Letter of Chester L. Shaver, March 28, 1956. 

5. In G. G. Sedgewick's "Kittredge of Harvard," Dalhousie Review, 
XXII (April, 1942), 81-86. 

6. In the Yale Review, V, n. s. (Jan., 1916), 429-30. 

7. Harvard Crimson, Feb. 6, 1936. 

8. Letter of Francis L. Utley, June 14, 1960. 

9. Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Nov. 6, 1936, pp. 195-96. 

10. Boston Evening Transcript, Jan. 31, 1934. 

11. Reprinted in the Shakespeare Association Bulletin, XI (July, 
1936), 171-74. 

12. Tucker Brooke, the Yale Shakespearian, was among the friendly 
reviewers (Saturday Review of Literature, Nov. 7, 1936, p. 12). 

13. Russell Maloney in the New Yorker, Jan. 20, 1940, p. 27. 

14. Reprinted in the New York Times Magazine, April 19, 1936. 

15. The Complete Works of Shakespeare, pp. 431-32. This and other 
passages are quoted by permission of Ginn and Company, owners of 
the copyright of Kittredge's editions of Shakespeare. 

16. Ibid., p. 258. 

17. As You Like It, ed. Kittredge, p. 149. 


(pp. 179-190) NOTES 

18. Sprague's preface to Sixteen Plays of Shakespeare, ed. Kittredge, 
published by Ginn and Company in 1946. 

19. The Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. Kittredge, p. 432. 

20. Macbeth, ed. Kittredge, p. 96. 

21. King Henry the Fifth, ed. Kittredge, p. 135. 

22. The Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. Kittredge, p. 1080. 

23. Much Ado about Nothing, ed. Kittredge, p. xiii. 

24. Dispatch from Albany, New York; quoted in the Boston Tran- 
script, Jan. 21, 1937. 

25. Quoted in the Rochester Times-Union, March 8, 1938. The 
story was also called legendary in the statement authorized by Ginn 
and Company. See the Saturday Review of Literature, July 4, 1936, 
p. 12. 

26. For information about some incidents I have drawn on many 
sources but wish to mention particularly among my informants E. P. 
Kuhl, A. D. McKillop, Fredson M. Bowers, Merritt Y. Hughes. 

27. Quoted from the sketch signed by F. N. Robinson, J. L. Lowes, 
and J. D. M. Ford, Harvard University Gazette, XXXVII (April 25, 
1942), 165-66. 

28. Information supplied by J. E. Hankins. 

29. Quoted from the Club Yearbook for 1942 in a letter of Dec. 
27, 1957, from President Walter Muir Whitehill of the Club of Odd 

30. Letter from G. B. Woods of George Washington University. 

31. Letter of Wirt Gate, whose teacher and Kittredge's student, 
James Hinton, had taught at Emory University. 



Adams, Charles Kendall, with the 
Kittredges in England, 38; men- 
tioned, 78 

Adams House, the, 88 

Aeschylus, 26 

Agassiz, Professor Louis, 11 

Aiken, Conrad, 18 

Aix-les-Bains, 155 

Alchemy, Chaucer's attitude to- 
wards, 137; New England phy- 
sicians' interest in, 149 

American Academy of Arts and 
Sciences, 109 

American Antiquarian Society, 

American Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Science, 176 

American Car Builders' Associa- 
tion, 12 

American Dialect Society, 86 

American Literature, 149 

American Scholar, the, 174n 

Amsterdam, 38 

Appian Way, the, 41 

Archbishop of Canterbury, the, 

Aristotle, 185 

Arnold, Matthew, quoted, 29; 
command of irony, 122 

Arnold, Sarah Louise, 85 

Arthur and Gorlagon, romance, 
142, 200-201n75 

Arundel, 165 

Athenaeum Press series, the, 74 

Atlantic Monthly, the, GLK's 
sketch of F. J. Child for, 79; 
mentioned, 31, 139 

Austin, Texas, 117 

Aytoun, W. E., Firmilian, 67 

Babbitt, Irving: Professor of 

French, 122-123; mentioned, 


Back-formations, 66 
Bacon, Francis, 172 
Baconian and other theories, 171- 


Bailey, Philip James, 26 
Bake at Barnstable, The, 157 
Baker, George P.: assistant, 42; 

WendelFs letter to, 76-77 

Ballads, popular: GLK and, 101- 
105; communal theory of, 103- 
105, 198n77 
Bancroft, George, 33 
Barnstable, GLK's early visits to, 
10; summer study at, 96; ex- 
ploring trips around, 13, 154; 
tercentenary celebration at, 187; 
mentioned, 92. See also Cape 

Barnstaple (England), 88 
Bartlett, John, Familiar Quota- 
tions, 87 
Bath, 99 

Beach, Joseph Warren, 116 
Beecher, Henry Ward, 159 
Bell, Thomas, 14 
Benoit de Sainte-More, Roman de 

Troie, 141 

Benson, Mrs. Deborah Lewis, 

married to E. L. Kittredge, 3. 

See also Kittredge, Deborah 


Beowulf,, course in, 43; class, 57, 


Beresford, Frank, painter, 165 
Boccaccio, Giovanni, 140, 141 
Bodenstedt, F. M. von, 181 
Bohemia, Shakespeare's coast of, 

Boston: GLK's birth in, 1; early 

sights in, 8 

Boston Advertiser, the, 23 
Boston City Hospital, 1 
Boston Commercial Club, GLK's 

lecture to, 63 
Boston Herald , the, 168 
Boston Transcript, the, 168 
Bowdoin Prizes, 17 
Bowles, Admiral Francis T.: 
makes speech, 118; mentioned, 

Boylston, Dr. Zabdiel, 148 
Boy Scouts, of Barnstable, 69 
Bradley, Professor Henry, 82 
Brandl, Alois, 134, 135 
Brett, Harold, 188 
Brewster, W. T., of Columbia 

University, 169 
Bridget, domestic, 96 



Briggs, L. B. R.: as teacher, 27-28; 

mentioned, 41 
Bright, J. W., of Johns Hopkins, 

collaboration in editing, 75 
British Academy, the, 110 
Brooklyn Institute of Arts and 

Sciences, 176 
Brooks, Van Wyck, 18 
Brown, Carleton, 116, 125 
Brown, Moses, 95 
Brown University, 146 
Browning, Robert, Bordello, 74 
Browning Society, 79 
Bryn Mawr College, 175 
Bucknell University, 176 
Bunker Hill, 14 
Bush, Douglas, 122 
Byron, Lord: editions of, 75-76; 

mentioned, 6 

Cabot Fellowship, the, 115 

Cambridge University, 164, 165 

Campbell, Killis, 75 

Canada, 90 

Cape Cod: GLK's early residence 
on, 10; interest in, 12-13; col- 
lections on, 86; summer relaxa- 
tion at, 88-89; oddities of char- 
acter on, 89; GLK's memories 
of, 152 

Cape Cod Association, the, 16 

Cape Cod Magazine, the, 13 

Carter, George H., 188 

Celtic, study of, 86 

Celtic Conferences, 86 

Chambers, R. W., 161 

Champion's Bargain, The, 143 

Channing, Edward, historian, 41 

Channing, Edward T., Boylston 
Professor of Rhetoric, 28 

Chapman, John Jay, 198n4 

Charles II, King, 144-145 

Chaucer, Geoffrey: F. J. Child's 
study of, 29-30; GLK's course 
in, 43; reference to his Perte- 
lote, 56; his part in the trans- 
lation of The Romance of the 
Rose, 76; language of, 120; 
GLK's writings on, 133-142; the 
Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and 
Tale, 135-137; attitude towards 
alchemy, 137; the marriage 
group, 137-138; "Lenvoy de 
Chaucer a Bukton," 138; The 


Book of the Duchess, 138-139; 
The House of Fame, 139; the 
Wife of Bath, Pandarus, the 
Pardoner, the Prioress's Tale, 
139; Troilus, 139; date of the 
Troilus and the relative chron- 
ology of the two versions of 
the Prologue to The Legend of 
Good Women, 140; Lollius, 
140-142; and dreams, 200nP 

Chaucer Society, the, 79 

Chester, 38 

Child, Francis James: as teacher 
at Harvard, 28-30; study of 
Chaucer's language, 29-30; as 
ballad-collector, 30; and GLK, 
30-31; tribute to GLK as stu- 
dent, 31; later methods, 49; 
cyclopedia article on ballads, 
78; later association with GLK, 
and death, 78-79; Furnivall on, 
79; GLK's sketches of, 79, 80- 
81; modernization of "The De- 
bate of the Body and the Soul," 
81; first president of the Ameri- 
can Dialect Society, 86; GLK's 
arranging his MSS, 101; and 
Chaucer's language, 120, 134; 
and linguistic requirements, 
126; mentioned, 77, 167, 168, 

Child, Dr. Robert, 149 

Child Memorial Library, 81 

Chinese Diggings, 3 

Chipman, Hannah: dates, 4; de- 
scent of, 13 

Churchill, Winston, 58 

Gilley, B. L., 35 

Civil War, the, 5, 171 

Clarke, James Freeman, 23 

Club of Odd Volumes: GLK joins, 
108; terms as president of, 157, 
188-189; "New Light on Romeo 
and Juliet" given to, 180; birth- 
day luncheon at, 188-189 

Coblenz, 38 

Colby College: GLK's honorary 
degree from, 45, 146; his visit 
to, 188 

Cole, Frank Nelson, 16 

Coleridge, E. H., 76 

Coleridge, S. T.: Lowes's study of, 
116; criticism of Hamlet by, 183 

Collar, William Coe, headmaster 

at Roxbury Latin School, 14, 16 
Collins, Wilkie, 88 
Cologne, cathedral at, 38 
Colonial Society of Massachusetts: 

GLK joins, 108; place in his 

affections, 109; meetings, 149 
Conant, President James B., 169 
Congregational Church, First, of 

Cambridge, 187 
Connaught, Duke of, 161 
Cook, A. S., 74, 75 
Copeland, Charles Townsend: 

with GLK on Advocate, 22; 

mentioned, 17, 125, 169, 170 
Copley Plaza Hotel, the, dinner 

at, 147 

Corday, Charlotte, 144 
Cornwall, 187 
Coulton, G. G., 142 
Courthope, W, J., 75 
Cowley, Malcolm, 18 
Cox, George W., 60 
Cox, John Harrington, 102 
Crocker, Henry (uncle of GLK), 

Cunningham, Henry W., 25 

Danvers, Mass., 150 

Dartmouth College, 36 

Davis, Arthur Kyle, Jr., 102 

Davis, Jefferson, 6 

"Debate of the Body and Soul, 

The," 81 

De Quincey, Thomas, 123 
Derby, Earl of, 161 
Dialect Notes, 86 
Dickens, Charles, 88, 97 
Dowse, Thomas, 159 
Dowse Lectures, 159 
Dray ton, Michael, 26 
Dudden, the Rev. Dr. F. Homes, 


Duke University, 175 
Dunster House, 84 

Early English Text Society, 79 

Eades, the Rev. H. F., 16 

Eastham, 97 

Eliot, President Charles W.: elec- 
tive system of, 21; attends per- 
formance of Oedipus the King, 
23; and GLK's Ivy Oration, 25; 
and GLK, 110-115, 198n4; at- 


tempts to appoint GLK ex- 
change professor, 113; confers 
honorary degree on GLK, 114; 
appoints GLK Cabot Fellow, 

Eliot, John, 14 

Elton, Oliver: at 1928 dinner in 
honor of GLK, 158; presides at 
GLK's lecture on The Tempest, 
161; quoted, 169-170; men- 
tioned, 75, 165 

Emerson, O. F., 74 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 23, 159 

Empson, William, 63 

English 2, 60-62 

English Association, the, 161 

Everett, Edward, 33 

Exeter, N. H., 33 

Facts about Shakespeare, The, by 
Neilson and Thorndike, 61 

"Fair Rosamond" (Rosamond 
Clifford), 152 

Farley, F. E., 85 

Farrar, Canon F. W., 38 

Fian, Dr., 182 

Flandrau, Charles M., 18 

Flower, Sir Archibald, 162 

Fliigel, Professor Ewald, 82 

Foakes-Jackson, F. J.: guest at 
1928 dinner in honor of GLK, 
158; proposes GLK as Honorary 
Fellow of Jesus College, 164 

Folger Shakespeare Library, 175 

Folsom, Ellen M., her school, 42 

Ford, J. D. M.: on expletives, 9; 
comment on "The Scholar and 
the Pedant," 129 

Frankfurt, 38 

Franklin, Benjamin, 106 

Frazer, Sir J. G., The Golden 
Bough, 145 

French, Daniel Chester, 37 

French, Nantie, 7 

Furnivall, F. J.: career of, 79; and 
Child, 79; enthusiasm about 
Words and Their Ways, 82; 
approval of GLK's Chaucer 
studies, 135; mentioned, 65, 110 

Furnivall Sculling Club, 79 

Gardiner, John Hays, 85 
Garrison, W. P., 75 



Germany, as center of graduate 
studies, 119 

Gilbert and Sullivan, Patience, 20 

Gildersleeve, B. L.: attends per- 
formance of Oedipus the King, 
23; on F. J. Child, 30, and GLK, 

Ginn, Edwin, friendship with 
GLK, 73, 132-133 

Ginn and Company, 132, 176 

Gladstone, W. E., 90 

Gloucester, 99 

Goldsmith, Oliver, 140 

Golgotha, 54 

Goodwin, W. W., and Oedipus 
the King, 22; GLK's teacher, 
26, 27; GLK's birthday gift to, 

Gordon, Frances, 35-37. See also 
Kittredge, Frances Gordon 

Gordon, George, President of 
Magdalen College, Oxford, 160 

Gordon, the Rev. George, minis- 
ter of the Old South Church, 

Gordon, Nathaniel, Mrs. GLK's 
father, 36 

Goss, W. F. M. (Will): early 
friendship with GLK, 12; men- 
tioned, 13, 190 

Gosse, Edmund, inaccuracies re- 
garding Gray, 74 

Gothic, 121, 124 

Goucher College, 175 

Grandgent, Charles H.: GLK's 
fellow student at Roxbury 
Latin School, 15; president of 
Advocate, 21; toastmaster at 
25th Anniversary dinner in 
honor of GLK, 118; on the 
Harvard staff in Modern Lan- 
guages, 126; introduces GLK at 
MLA dinner, 147-148; their 
"flytings," 148 

Gray, Arthur, 165 

Gray, R. P., 102 

Gray, Thomas, and Old Norse, 74 

Greenlaw, Edwin: and Studies in 
Philology, 115; mentioned, 116 

Greenough, Chester N., 129 

Greenough, James B.: GLK's 
friendship with, 27; shares 
authorship of Words and Their 
Ways, 82 


Greenslet, Ferris, publisher, 147 

Grierson, H. J. C., 165 

Grimm, William and James, 80 

Guild, Curtis, 22 

Gulliver's Travels, Swift's, 68 

Gummere, Francis B.: dedication 
of his translation of Beowulf, 
103; GLK's review of his Old 
English Ballads, 103; considers 
position at Harvard, 112, 113; 
mentioned, 74 

Gurney, Ellen, 146 

Hague, The, 38 

Hallett, Billy, Cape Cod yarn- 
spinner, 89 

Halliday, W. R., 161, 202n 

Hampton, N. H., 151 

Hampton Court, 38 

Hanson, Charles L., 27 

Harland, Henry, 23 

Harper, William R., 35 

Hart, A. B., 41 

Hart, W. M., 116 

Harvard, John, statue of, 37 

Harvard Advocate, 18-22 

Harvard Alumni Bulletin: quoted, 
43; on GLK's retirement, 170- 
171; on his eightieth birthday, 
188 y 

Harvard Club of St. Louis, 118 

Harvard Crimson, quoted, 58, 169 

Harvard English Studies, 133 

Harvard Hall, 48, 55 

Harvard Lampoon: pictures in, 
49, 59, 178; Tercentenary issue 
of, 170 

Harvard Oriental Series, 133 

Harvard Studies and Notes in 
Philology and Literature, 75 

Harvard Tercentenary, the, 170 

Harvard University: linguistic re- 
quirements in English in the 
Graduate School, 124-125, 126, 
166-167; honorary degree to 
GLK, 146. See also Kittredge, 
George Lyman, and passim 

Harvard University Press, 132-133 

Harwich, 38, 95 

Hathaway, Anne, cottage, 90 

Haverford College, 112 

Helgramites, 95, 96 

Henderson, Professor, 111 

Henley, W. E., his edition of 
Byron, 75-76 

Hewlett, Maurice, Richard Yea- 
and-Nay, 140 

Hicks, Edward, researches on 
Malory, 77 

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth: 
praise of GLK as toastmaster, 
24; remarks about elective 
studies, 24 

Hill, A. S.: GLK on, 27; men- 
tioned, 41 

Hilly er, Robert: and the Advo- 
cate, 18; reference to GLK's re- 
tirement, 170 

History of Religions Club, 108 

Hollis Hall, 46 

Holmes, O. W.: 23, 159 

Homer, 171 

Hopkins, Elkanah, 97 

Hopkinson, Charles, portrait of 
GLK, 158 

Horace, 141, 171 

Howard, A. A.: GLK's friend, 41; 
his companion at the theater, 

Howard, Mrs. A. A., 88 

Howe, Julia Ward, 23 

Howells, W. D., 23 

Howland, John, 13 

Hutchins, R. M., 147 

Hutchinson, Thomas, memorial 
doorway, 186-187 

Hyannis, 92, 154 

Indianapolis, 175 
Indian relics, 97 
Institute of 1770, 17 
Intelligence tests, 173 
International Congress of Arts 

and Sciences, 1904, 120 
Inverness, 100 
lona, 100 
Italy, 39 
Ivy Oration, GLK's, 21, 24-25 

Jagemann, H. C. G. von, 42, 124 
James I, King, 150-151, 182, 201n4 
James, William: admiration of 
F. J. Child, 28; and "The Ph. 
D. Octopus/' 126; mentioned, 
41, 169 

Jespersen, Otto: at the Interna- 
tional Congress of Arts and 
Sciences, 120; quoted, 177 


Jesus College, Cambridge, 164 

Jewish Publication Society, 85 

John of Gaunt, 134 

Johns Hopkins University, the: 
GLK's lectures on metrical ro- 
mances at, 78; a center of 
graduate studies, 119; linguistic 
requirements in English at, 
121; GLK's lectures on Chaucer 
at, 133; awards GLK honorary 
degree, 146 

Johnson, Dr. Samuel: quoted, 173; 
mentioned, 168, 178, 181, 190 

Johnson's Universal Cyclopaedia, 
GLK's contributions to, 77, 78 

Johnston, Brent: at GLK's wed- 
ding, 37; GLK's brother-in-law, 

Johnston, Mrs. Brent. See Kitt- 
redge, Lucretia 

Journal of American Folk-Lore ', 
the, 109 

Journal of Germanic Philology, 
the, 115 

Jusserand, J. J., 75 

Kaluza, Max, 76 

Karsten, Gustav E., 115 

Keats, John, 128 

Kennedy, Senator John F. (later 
President), 118 

Kenyon, Sir Frederick, 161 

Keogh, Andrew, 147 

Ker, W. P., 165 

King Tut, 68 

Kittredge, Abel, grandfather of 
GLK, 1 

Kittredge, Deborah Lewis: GLK's 
mother, 3-4; influence on her 
son, 9; death of, 98 

Kittredge, Dora: GLK's daughter, 
41; as her father's secretary, 
154; and the family car, 154; 
mentioned, 96, 160 

Kittredge, Edward Lyman (GLK's 
father): birth and parentage, 1; 
character, 1-2; adventures as a 
forty-niner, 2-3; influence on 
his son, 9; his small farming at 
Barnstable, 10; return of his 
family to Boston, 14; death of, 
98; early changes of residence, 



Kittredge, Farrington, uncle of 
GLK, 1, 3, 10 

Kittredge, Frances Gordon (Mrs. 
George Lyman Kittredge): 
meeting with, and engagement 
to, GLK, 35-37; wedding, 37; 
her account of the journey to 
Germany, 37-39; first visit to 
Barnstable, 89; absent-minded- 
ness in England, 99; a source 
of encouragement to GLK, 156, 
177; and GLK's birthday cake, 
189; mentioned, 97, 160 

Kittredge, Frances (GLK's daugh- 
ter): birth, 40; trip to Europe, 
92; marriage to Dr. Conrad 
Wesselhoeft, 155; mentioned, 
78, 91, 154 

Kittredge, George Lyman: birth, 
1; childhood, 1, 5-12; early 
journal quoted, 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9; 
impressed by his father's ad- 
ventures, 2; on optimism, 2; at- 
titude towards his parents, 4; 
interest in being read to and 
reading, 5, 6; church attend- 
ance, 5, 187; early schooling, 
5-6; piano lessons, 6; early in- 
terest in poetry, 6-7; health in 
childhood, 6, 9; goal of early 
earnings, 7; interest in collect- 
ing, 7-8; New England in- 
fluence, 8; shyness, 9, 69; avoid- 
ance of expletives, 9; friends at 
Province town, 10; early years 
at Barnstable, 10-12; breaks his 
arm, 10; friendship with Will 
Goss, 12; early familiarity with 
literature and history, 12; in- 
terest in Cape Cod, 12-13; con- 
servatism, 13, 126, 191; ances- 
try, 13; studies at Roxbury 
Latin School, 14-15; admission 
to Harvard, 16; scholastic rank 
there, 16-17; Bowdoin Prizes, 
17; social life at Harvard, 17-18; 
and the Harvard Advocate, 18- 
21; knack of versifying, 19-20; 
prompter for Oedipus the King, 
22-23; his Ivy Oration, 23-25; as 
toastmaster, 24; college rooms, 
25; college subjects, 26; com- 
monplace books, 26; his favor- 
ite teachers, 26-32; parallels be- 


tween him and F. J. Child, 
30-31; appointed instructor at 
Phillips Kxeter, 33; as a teacher 
at Phillips Exeter, 34-35; en- 
gagement and marriage to 
Frances Gordon, 35-37; pro- 
moted to professorship at Phil- 
lips Exeter, 37; journey to, and 
experience in, Germany, 38-40; 
children born, 40, 41; begins 
career as teacher at Harvard, 
41; promoted, 41; succeeds 
Child as chairman of the Divi- 
sion of Modern Languages, 41- 
42; teaches in 1898-99 at Miss 
Folsom's School, 42; courses 
taught at Harvard, 42-44; ad- 
ministrative duties, 42; over- 
powering personality, 44; im- 
pressions made by appearance, 
44-45, and passim-, honorary de- 
grees, 45, 114, 146; sense of dig- 
nity, 46, 69; on pedagogy, 47-48; 
rules of his classroom, 48-51; 
"anger," 52; on the vocalized 
pause, 51-52; some classroom 
episodes memorable, 53-54; oc- 
casional dismissal of classes, 54- 
55; campaign against distract- 
ing noises, 55; and mechanical 
matters, 56; swiftness of ans- 
wers, 58; his spectacles, 58; 
dramatic exits, 59-60; course in 
Shakespeare, 60-62; relish of 
humor in heroic literature, 63; 
methods in graduate courses, 
63-65; his study, 64; attitude 
towards smoking, 65; usual de- 
corum of stories, 66-67; remark- 
able memory, 67-68; supposed 
aloofness, 68-69; generosity, 69; 
kindness, 69, 71-72; mock ex- 
amination at K. G. T. Webster's 
house, 69-70; encouragement 
during examinations, 70-71; as 
a counselor, 71-72; scholarship 
in Latin, 73; fields of research, 
73; editing of Athenaeum Press 
and other series, 74-75; his re- 
views, 75-77; oversees last part 
'of Child's edition of the ballads, 
79; revision of English in trans- 
lation of Psalms, 85; books on 
grammar and composition, 85; 

interest in dialects, 85-86; study 
of Celtic, 86; collections in 
scrapbooks, 86; and sleep, 87; 
and the theater, 87-88; as epi- 
cure, 88; family diversions, 88; 
summers at Barnstable, 88-89; 
journeys to England in 1896, 
90-91; letters, general nature of, 
90, quoted, 90-91, 92-96, 97, 98, 
99-101; favorite pursuits at 
Barnstable, 92; pleasure in 
journeys and in search for rel- 
ics, 97; death of his parents, 
98; visit to the Scottish High- 
lands, 99-100; and commemora- 
tive notices, 100; trip to Eng- 
land in 1906, 98-101; president 
of Modern Language Associa- 
tion of America and American 
Folk-Lore Society, 101, 109; and 
popular ballads, 101-105; ar- 
ranging Child MSS, 101; work 
on "Lovewell's Fight," 102; 
and clubs, 108-09; editing for 
JAFL, 109; recognition abroad 
early in the century, 109-110; 
and President Eliot, 110-115; 
declines position in Compara- 
tive Literature, 113; receives 
Cabot Fellowship, 115; aids 
scholarly publishing, 115; some 
prominent students of, 116; 
recognition as lecturer, 116; 
lecture tour in the South, 117; 
visits Negro church in Austin, 
Texas, 117; presentation to him 
of Anniversary Papers, 118, and 
dinner, 118; Kittredge Anni- 
versary Fund, 118, 119; and 
Harvard College Library, 118- 
119, gift of mystery stories to, 
119, on smoking in, 119; and 
"Teutonic scholarship/ 1 119; 
speech at the International 
Congress of Arts and Sciences, 
120-121; literature his prime 
interest, 121; Stuart P. Sher- 
man's article on, 124-127; "The 
Scholar and the Pedant," 128- 
129; "a force of nature," 130; 
and the Harvard University 
Press, 132-133; Chaucer scholar- 
ship and criticism, 133-142; 
paraphrasing Chaucer, 136-137; 


discussion of Chaucer's Lollius, 
140-142; appointed Gurney Pro- 
fessor, 146; public addresses, 
147-148; discussion of American 
colonial figures, 148-149; ex- 
ploring trips around Barn- 
stable, 154; health in later 
years, 154; interest in grand- 
children, 155; immersion in 
study and its possible effect on 
women visitors, 155-156; presi- 
dent of the Club of Odd Vol- 
umes, 157, 188-189; picture with 
the Club, 157; his conviviality, 
158-159; dinner in honor of 
forty years of teaching, 158; 
Dowse Lectures, 159; appoint- 
ment to deliver Northcliffe Lec- 
tures on Shakespeare and his 
experience in England in 1932, 
160-165; D. Litt. degree from 
Oxford, 161; speech at luncheon 
given by the Pilgrims of Great 
Britain, 162-163; definition of 
pessimist, 163; Honorary Fellow 
of Jesus College, Cambridge, 
164; seventy-fifth birthday, 167- 
168; qualities as a dinner com- 
panion, 168; last class in Shake- 
speare, 170; Lowell Lectures on 
Shakespeare in 1934, 171-172; 
Ingersoll Lecture on "The Old 
Teutonic Idea of the Future 
Life," 172; "A Teacher's Mem- 
ories and Impressions," lecture 
in 1937, 173-175; an "advertise- 
ment," 175; "Shakespeare's Vil- 
lains" and "Shakespeare and 
the Critics," 175; oral dissemi- 
nation of criticism of Shake- 
speare, 177; knowledge of de- 
rnonology and use in interpret- 
ing Shakespeare, 182-183; his 
interpretation of Hamlet, 183; 
success in lectures on Shake- 
speare after his retirement, 184- 
186; newspaper interviews dur- 
ing lecture tours, 185; comment 
on the Ph. D. story, 185; story 
of a Cornish driver and his 
own religion, 187-188; birthday 
luncheon at Club of Odd Vol- 
umes, 188-189; tributes from 
students in later years, 189-190; 



death and burial, 190; mem- 
ories by students, 190-191; some 
general qualities of, 191-192; 
lineage of, 193n5 
"Arm -Pitting among the 

Greeks/' 73-74 
Arthur and Gorlagon, 78 
"The Canon's Yeoman's Pro- 
logue and Tale," 135-137 
"Chaucer and Froissart," 111, 


Chaucer and His Poetry, 133, 
138-140; mentioned, 135, 137 
"Doctor Robert Child the Re- 
monstrant," 149 
"Man Shakespeare, The," 172 
New Light on Romeo and 

Juliet, 180 
Observations on the Language 

of Chaucer's Troilus, 134 
Old Farmer and His Almanack, 
The, 105-107; mentioned, 8, 

"Respectfully Dedicated to the 
Critical Alumnus" (verses), 
"Scholar and the Pedant, The," 


"Scholar's Olio, The," 11-12 
Shakspere, 181-182, 183; men- 
tioned, 61, 133, 178 
Sir Orfeo, 78 

Student's Cambridge Edition of 
English and Scottish Popular 
Ballads (with Helen Child 
Sargent), 101 

Study of Gawain and the Green 
Knight, A, 142-145; men- 
tioned, 78 

Witchcraft in Old and New 
England, 149-153, 192; men- 
tioned, 8 

Words and Their Ways in Eng- 
lish Speech (with James B. 
Greenough), 82-84 
Kittredge, Henry C. (son of 
GLK): use of Cape Cod ma- 
terial, 13, 88; birth, 41; and 
his father, 154-155; mentioned, 
93, 94 

Kittredge, Lucretia (George's sis- 
ter "Lettie"; Mrs. Brent John- 
ston): her gift to her brother, 
4; GLK's attitude towards her, 


4-5; bridesmaid, 37; mentioned, 

7, 95 
Kittredge, Minot (uncle of GLK), 

Kittredge, Sophia Lyman (GLK's 

paternal grandmother), 1 
Kittredge, William DeWitt, GLK's 

parents' adopted child, 5 
Kittredge Hall, 133 
Krapp, G. P., 75 

Lake, Joshua, Dictionary of Aus- 
tralian Words and Phrases, 85 

Lake, Kirsopp, 49 

Lament, Thomas W.: on GLK as 
teacher, 35; and Lamont Li- 
brary, 119; speech accepting 
GLK's portrait for Phillips 
Exeter, 188 

Lane, Gardiner Martin, 22 

Lang, Andrew, 104 

Lanman, Charles R,, 115 

Latham, R. G., 141 

Lawrence, Mass., 176 

Lawrence's Pond, 93 

Laylander, O. J., 10, 11 

"Lead Belly," Negro folk singer, 

Leipzig, 38, 39 

Leverett House, 158n 

Lewis, David P., 4 

Lewis, Deborah. See Kittredge, 
Deborah Lewis 

Library Council, 42 

Liddon, Canon Henry P., 38 

Life, 176 

Liverpool, 38 

Loch Finnhe, 100 

Loch Lomond, 95 

Lomax, Alan, 84, 102 

Lomax, John A.: invites GLK to 
Texas, 116-117; account of 
visit to Negro church, 117; 
mentioned, 84, 102 

Longfellow, H. W., 23 

Longfellow Park, 86 

Lothrop, Judge, 94 

Lothrop Hill Cemetery, 190 

Lounsbury, T. R., Studies in 
Chaucer, 75, 76 

Lowell, President A. L.: asks GLK 
to repeat lectures, 116; en- 
courages his lecture tour in the 
South, 117; speech at 25th An- 

niversary dinner, 118; quotes 
GLK on smoking in the Li- 
brary, 119; appoints GLK to 
press committee, 132; sugges- 
tion about Cotton Mather, 148; 
guest at 1928 dinner, 158; let- 
ter to GLK in 1932, 165; men- 
tioned, 108, 113, 169 

Lowell, James Russell: friendship 
with F. J. Child, 29; a fellow 
lecturer, 30 

Lowes, John L.: The Road to 
Xanadu, 116; disciple of GLK 
in his work on Chaucer, 116, 
135; guest at 1928 dinner, 158; 
mentioned, 84, 85, 123 

Lucian, 168 

Lyman (Kittredge), Sophia, GLK's 
paternal grandmother, 1 

Lyminster, 165 

Macaulay, T. B., 12 

MacCracken, H. N., President of 
Vassar College, 128, 169 

MacCracken, Mrs. H. N., 156-157 

McGill University, 146 

McGuffey's Readers, 11 

Mackail, J. W., 161 

MacKenzie, W. Roy, 102 

Magdalen College, Oxford, 160 

Mainz, 38 

Malory, Sir Thomas, 77 

Manly, John M.: speech at 25th 
Anniversary dinner for GLK, 
118; on philology, 120; his Ph. 
D. thesis, 135; guest at 1928 
dinner, 158; considers editing 
Shakespeare, 176-177; men- 
tioned, 74, 77, 116, 161 

Manning, Billy, 15 

Marsh, Arthur R., 112, 113 

Mary, Queen, 151 

Massachusetts Historical Society, 

Mather, Cotton, 148-149 

Matthews, Albert: friend of GLK, 
25; and the Kittredge Anniver- 
sary Fund, 119; mention of, 

Mayflower., the, 13 

Mazatldn, 2 

Mead, W. E., 75 

Memorial Hall, steward of, 21 

Merritt, Percival, 155 


Middle States Association of Col- 
leges and Secondary Schools, 

Mnemosyne, 68 

Modern Language Association of 
America, 101, 109 

Modern Philology, 115 

Mondays at Nine, quoted, 59 

Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de, 
26, 168 

Monticello, 186 

Moore, George Foot, 108 

Moore, Samuel, 116 

More, Paul Elmer: editor of the 
Nation, 124; mentioned, 122, 

Morgan, Mr., 95, 96 

Morley, Christopher, 112 

Morley, Henry, 165 

Moses, Senator George H.: on 
GLK's teaching, 34; on George 
A. Wentworth, 35 

Moulton, General Jonathan, 151 

Miinsterberg, Hugo, 169 

National Institute of Arts and 
Letters, 108 

Neilson, William Allan: and lin- 
guistic requirements in English, 
121-122; mentioned, 43, 115, 
116, 123, 135 

Neilson, Mrs. William Allan, 156 

Nelson, N. H., 10 

New England Associated Califor- 
nia Pioneers of '49, the, 3 

New England Historic and Gene- 
alogical Society, the, 176 

New Orleans, 2 

New Shakspere Society, the, 79, 

New York State, politics in, 17 

New York State College for Teach- 
ers at Albany, 175 

New York Times, 169 

New "Yorker, the, 178 

Nichols, Lewis, 49 

Northwestern University, 172 

Norton, Charles Eliot: at per- 
formance of Oedipus the King, 
23; friend of F. J. Child, 29; 
mentioned, 41 

Noyes, G. R., 116 

Oban, 100 

O. K. Club, 17 



Old Farmer's Almanack, The, 

GLK/s early interest in, 6 
Old Howard, the, theater, 87, 88 
Old South Church, the, 177 
Onions, O. T., 161 
Orleans, 97, 98 
Overbury, Sir Thomas, 180 
Oxford University, 146 

Palmer, George Herbert, 41 

Paradise Lost, 10 

Parker, Sir Gilbert, 161 

Pattengill, Albert H., 38 

Paul, Captain Edward A., 2 

Pedantry, GLK on, 128-129 

Peirce, Benjamin O., 41 

Pennell, R. F., 34 

Penniman, Mr., 97 

Perm, Edmund S., 26, 33 

Perkins, John Walter, 25 

Perry, Bliss: and linguistic re- 
quirements in English, 121; 
mentioned, 170 

Perry, Frances, of Exeter, 37 

Perry, Frank, Cape Cod character, 

Perry, J. T., 34 

Pershing, General John, 146 

Petrarch, 137, 140 

Phelps, William Lyon: character- 
ization of GLK, 59; editing 
Gray's poems, 74; on Brown- 
ing's "A Grammarian's Fu- 
neral," 120; orator at conferring 
of honorary degree, 146-147; 
photographed with GLK, 176; 
mentioned, 110 

Phi Beta Kappa, 18, 120, 174, 

Phillips, Wendell, 159 

Phillips Exeter: description of, 
33-34; Alumni Day, 1940, 188 

Philology, 120 

Phoebus Apollo, 129 

Piers Plowman, 105 

Pilgrims of Great Britain, the, 
luncheon of, 161-164 

Plato, 26 

Pleasant Lake, Harwich, 95, 96 

Plymouth Rock, 13 

Poetic Edda, the, 63 

Porter, Jane, The Scottish Chiefs, 

Pottinger, David, 132 


Pound, Louise, 104-105 

Poynton, Dr. A. B., 164 

Pratt, Professor Robert A., 141 

Prescott, W. H., 12 

Prince of Wales, the, later Ed- 
ward VIII, 164 

Prothero, R. E., 76 

Provincetown, 7, 8-9, 10 

Public Record Office, 77 

Purdue University, 12 

Puritans, the, and witchcraft, 

Railroad Avenue, Barnstable, 89 

"Rattlesnake Point," 13 

Reid, Captain Mayne, dictum on 
writing plays, 180-181 

Reisner, George Andrew, archae- 
ologist, 119 

Rhine, the, 38 

Riddle, George, 23 

Ripon, 100 

Rob Roy's grave, 96 

Robinson, F. N.: shares Beowulf 
and Germanic and Celtic Re- 
ligions, 43; introduction of Celt- 
ic at Harvard, 86; speech of 
presentation at 25th Anniver- 
sary dinner, 118; editor of 
Chaucer, 135; succeeds GLK as 
Gurney Professor, 146; guest at 
1928 dinner in honor of GLK, 
158; mentioned, 108, 116 

Robinson Female Seminary, 36 

Rollins, H. E.: quoted, 139, 190; 
succeeds F. N. Robinson as 
Gurney Professor, 146 

Roman de la Rose, proper names 
in, 87 

Roosevelt, Theodore: member of 
O. K, Club, 17; and the Advo- 
cate, 18 

Rotterdam, 38 

Rowlands, Samuel, quoted, 26 

Roxbury, suburb of Boston, 14 

Roxbury Latin School: early his- 
tory of, 14; GLK's later in- 
terest in, 15 

Royal Society of Literature, the, 
GLK Honorary Fellow of, 110 

Royce, Josiah, 41 

Sacrament Rock, 187 
Saint Godric, 151 

St. Paul's School, Concord, N. H., 

Saintsbury, George, 165 

Salem, Mass., 150, 152 

Salem Village, 150 

San Francisco, 3 

San Luis Rey, 3 

Sargent, Helen Child: GLK's col- 
laboration with, 81; mentioned, 

Satan, bargain with General 
Moulton, 151 

Schelling, Felix E., 74 

Schofield, W. H., 95, 113 

Scoggin, Mrs. Susan Child, F. J. 
Child's daughter, 31 

Scott, Sir Walter, and "Kinmont 
Willie," 104 

Sedgwick, Ellery, story by, 31-32 

Selincourt, Ernest de, tribute to 
GLK, 162 

Semantics, 83-84, 121 

Sever Hall, 55, 86 

Shakespeare, William: GLK's 
courses in, 43-44, 60-62; Fal- 
staff, 56, 168, 184; the man, 
172; The Winter's Tale, 178, 
179-180; The Merchant of 
Venice and alleged anti-Semi- 
tism, 179; As l^ou Like It, 179; 
topical interpreters of, 180; 
Macbeth, 181, 182-183; The 
Tempest, 182; language of, 181- 
182; Othello, 181-182; Hamlet, 
183; Much Ado about Nothing, 
184; Henry V, 184; Julius Cae- 
sar, 184 

Shakespeare Association of Amer- 
ica, the, 172 

Shallow Pond, 95 

Shaw, George Bernard, 185 

Sheep Pond, Brewster, 96 

Sheldon, E. S.: during mock 
examination, 70; collaboration 
with GLK in editing, 75; teach- 
er of Old French, 121; dinner 
in honor of retirement of, 158 

Sherman, Stuart P.: tribute to 
Babbitt and Kittredge, 123-124; 
enjoyment of GLK's courses in 
Shakespeare and Beowulf, 124; 
"Professor Kittredge and the 
Teaching of English," 124-127; 


spokesman for a point of view, 
127; mentioned, 140 

Shrewsbury, 38 

Sievers, Eduard: friend of GLK, 
39; in America, 120 

Signet Society, the, 17 

Simmons College, 85 

Sir Gawain and the Green 
Knight, Middle English ro- 
mance, 142-145, 201n77 

Sir Orfeo, 78 

Sisson, Charles J.: friend of 
GLK, 160; introduces GLK, 
161; guest at Pilgrims' lunch- 
eon, 161; visited by the Kitt- 
redges at Lyminster, 165 

Skeat, W. W.: edition of Chaucer, 
75, 76; approval of GLK's 
Chaucer studies, 135 

Smith, Reed, 102 

Smith College, 176 

Snow, Charles A.: roommate of 
GLK, 25; at GLK's wedding, 37; 
with GLK on bicycle trip in 
England, 90 

Socrates, 168 

Sophocles, Oedipus the King, 22- 

Sophocles, Professor Evangelinus 
Apostolides: attends perform- 
ance of Oedipus the King, 23; 
oddities of, 27 

Sparks, Jared, 33 

Spencer, Theodore, 122 

Sprague, Arthur Colby: editing 
GLK's explanatory notes, 184; 
mentioned, 179 

Spring-Rice, Sir Cecil, 146 

Spurgeon, the Rev. C. H., 38 

Stagg, Amos Alonzo, football 
coach, 35 

Stevenson, R. L., 75, 76 

Stockton, 3 

"Stoic fallacy, the," 82-83 

Stork, Charles Wharton, 127 

Stratford-on-Avon, 185 

Studies in Philology, 115 

Sturgis Library, Barnstable, 14 

Summers, the Rev. Montague, 
English eccentric, 152 

Tatlock, J. S. P.: guest at 1928 
dinner in honor of GLK, 158; 



quoted, 189; mentioned, 116, 


Taussig, F. W., 41 
Taylor, John, "the Water-poet," 


Tennyson, Alfred, quoted, 122 
Texas Folk-Lore Society, 117 
Thacher, George, 16 
Theobald, Lewis, emendation, 184 
Thomas, Robert B., 106 
Thoreau, H. D., 28 
Thorpe, James, bibliography of 

GLK, 190 
Thurber, Charles H.: editor of 

Ginn and Company, 133; friend 

of GLK, 176 
Tilley, Elizabeth, 13 
Times, The (London), 161 
Toy, Crawford H., 108 
Tufts, J. A., 35 
Tupper, Frederick, 75 
Twain, Mark, 168 
Tylor, E. B., Primitive Culture, 

Tyrwhitt, Thomas, 134 

Union College, 146 

University of Chicago, the, 146, 


University of Illinois, 123 
University of Rochester, 176 
University of Virginia, 186 
University of Wisconsin, 186 

Vassar College, 128 
Vera Cruz, 2 

Wadsworth, fictional character, 


Walker, General Thomas H., 34 
Warren, General Joseph, 14 
Warren House, 46 
Warwick, Earl of, 77 
Warwick Castle, 38 
Washington, George, 107 
Washington, D. C., 175 
Watts, Isaac, quoted, 5 
Webster, Daniel, 4, 33 
Webster, Professor K. G. T., 69 
Wellesley College, 175 
Wells, England, 99 

Wendell, Barrett: quoted, 2, 76- 
77; and John A. Lomax, 117; 
and linguistic requirements in 
English, 121; mentioned, 41, 
42, 125 

Wentworth, George A., 35 

Wesleyan University, 85 

Wesselhoeft, Dr. Conrad: mili- 
tary honors of, 155; GLK and 
"cough medicine," 158-159 

Wesselhoeft, Conrad, GLK's 
grandson, 155 

Wesselhoeft, Mrs. Conrad. See 
Kittredge, Frances 

Wesselhoeft, William, GLK's 
grandson, 155 

West Barnstable, 13, 187 

Whelden, Martha Lee, GLK's 
teacher, 10-11 

White, Professor J. W.: and 
Oedipus the King, 22; men- 
tioned, 26, 27 

Whitehall, Walter Muir, 189 

Whiting, Professor B. J., 195 

Who's Who in America, 17 

Widener Library, Treasure Room 
of, 160 

Wilde, Oscar, visit to Boston, 20 

William and Mary, College of, 

Wilson, J. Dover, 161 

Winchester, C. T., collaboration 
with GLK, 74 

Windsor, Duke of, former Prince 
of Wales and Edward VIII, 164 

Wister, Owen: member of O. K. 
Club, 17; part in Oedipus the 
King, 22-23; letter to GLK, 171 

Witchcraft, 150-154 

Wood, Richard Carver, 188 

Woolley, Monty, and his beard, 

Wordsworth, William, 128 

Yale University: awards honorary 
degree to GLK, 146-147; GLK's 
lectures at, 176 

Young, Karl, 116 

Youth's Companion, the, 6 

Zenocrate, Marlowe's, 192 


a delightful companion. With- 
out neglecting the Kittreclge leg- 
end but without mistaking it for 
fact, this biography attempts to 
portray the man as he was and 
to interpret the achievements of 
the teacher and the scholar. 

Previous writings by the au- 
thor of this book, a professor of 
English at the University of 
Kansas, have dealt chiefly with 
nineteenth-century English liter- 
ature, especially with A. C. Swin- 
burne and Wilkie Collins. His 
Snow of Kansas (1953) was the 
story of a New Englander who, 
though trained in the classics, 
eventually became a pioneer 
scientist ai d educator. The 
present study concerns another 
native of Massachusetts, also 
trained in the classics, whose 
chief interest, along with othei 
wide and various interests, con 
tinued to be literature.